Early in July of 2017 I visited my homeland region of the San Joaquin Valley and Sierra Nevada Mountains. It’s something gentle to my heart, a mystery why this place keeps calling out to me with such love over such distance, across time and space. The Sierra Nevada mountains of California, I have long held, are what a heaven shall be like when the great celestial places come to settle their love on our small and intimate Earth, it is told, in the life of the world to come. How I love this cathedral range, mountains of gentler snow and light and love.
I journeyed into these mountains of mine for two days, alone with my little car and a quietness in me, on July 6th and 7th. I stayed at extraordinary Mono Hot Springs, where I wish the likes of me could somehow live with my sweet husband, our two cats, and a sure chosen family-community for the rest of our lives. Of course, this magical little town of a dozen-or-so is seasonal, arising out of the glitter-snows of winter for half the year in hotter days of late spring through early autumn. There are real true springs, there: warm, lovely scented (a good smell of the washing and comforting earth!) sulfur springs welling up from the high meadow paradise grounds. It is said the Original Peoples ventured there, the Mono and Miwok and other ancestral, indigenous travelers from over the range. I speak prayers of thanks and friendship to them while I walk, barefoot and lightly clothed in rectangular fabric, the paths of the little mountain meadow hillsides where these springs of warm renewal rise.
Walking this land, this place I love likely more than any other I have tread or even seen depicted by the captured frames of light, my heart jumps in happy greeting at the sight of familiar specie-friends. What a happy revelation to find that the days of searching and studying the knowledge of these plant and animal species truly does create clearer eyes in humans who go walking int heir homelands. At various times in this visit to the Sierras I was, at turns, lovesick in my heart for feeling, at once, such a great love for this place yet missing my husband and our two little cats back in my current home of the Puget Sound. I wanted, with longing, that all my loves would be gathered together –as we hope for in heaven. No wonder that the images I have dreamt of my original family resurrected to life is of our meeting in these Sierra Nevada mountains.
And here, friends, I speak your names once more, a litany of love and homecoming, of belonging to the profound and sacred heart-comfort of this place. I recorded your good names in a notepad to remember you, that I should not forget I have seen you again. I shall see you again.
Western Juniper – Juniper occidentalis
Douglas Fir – Pseutotsuga menziesii
Ponderosa Pine – Pinus ponderosa
Jeffrey Pine – Pinus jeffreyi
Western White Pine – Pinus monticola
White Alder – Alnus incana
California Bay Laurel – Umbellularia californica
(Up and down the way through Oregon:) – Interior Live Oak – Quercus wislienii
Mountain Dogwood – Cornus nuttallii
Oregon Grape – Berberis aquifolium
Poison Oak – Toxicodendron diversilobum
White Stem Raspberry – Rubus leucodermis
Thimbleberry – Rubus parvifolus
A Gooseberry Unknown
Manzanita (Greenleaf, likely)
also Pinemat, Whiteleaf
Bracken Fern (whom I thought was Lady Fern, mistooken)
Pteridium aquilinum variation. pubescens. Rounded lobes.
Lady Ferm pattern: little tufts along her spine,
Athyrium falpestre var. americanum
Lupine – type? Who, among so many names.
Miner’s Lettuce – Claytonia perfoliata
Paintbrush – Applegate’s, Indian? – Castilleja applegatei species.
Jepson’s Pea –a brilliant pink of hearts! – Lathyrus jepsonii
Gay Penstemon, happy, joyful – Penstemon laetus! –Laudete!
Animals, Animalia, Kingdom
– the Ones through Whom God looks out through all eyes.
Golden Buprestid, a Beetle of Brilliance
Sierran Blue-winged Grasshopper
“Northern & Boreal Bluet”, Common Blue Damselfly – Enallagma cyathigerum
and female var. E. boreale
Western Fence Lizard! Blue-Belly!
Sandpiper (almond orchard, down in the San Joaquin Valley)
Turkey Vultures (different from Condors, the greats)
Mourning Dove, whose song I love, who greets the hot day
and makes her mourning into singing.
Northern Mockingbird, the scout-flapper-flier.
– Do not all these deserve the same love?
American Robin – Turdus migratorius – steady on laws to remind us, to cheer us
Saw somebody with a yellow belly, not sure of his name yet, fine feathers of turmeric.
Stellar’s Jay – his eyebrows stripes of vertical white are different here
than in the Puget Sound. Two light-blue
eyes stripes vertical!
Dark-eyed Junco – Junco hyemalis
California Ground Squirrel (distinct white back)
Raven – Corvus corax –
harbinger unto the end