Saturday, June 6, 2009


Peter's Canyon: spring through summer

With my love of high-elevations, I'm judgmental about Orange County hikes. I love it when I'm proven wrong.

We started hiking again in Peter's Canyon Regional Park, just off Jamboree and Chapman here in Orange.  The 2.5 mile loop is perfect for the kids and dogs. The entire park itself is 354 acres of coastal scrub, freshwater marsh, and grassland. You'll find lots of migrating waterfowl amongst the willow, sycamore, and black cottonwoods (and eucalyptus along the Lower Trail) the grow along the creek and reservoir. 

Wildlife includes: mule deer, bobcats, coyotes, opossums, raccoons, and maybe a mountain lion (if you're lucky! Gulp.) Amphibians and reptiles (saw our first rattler stalking a cottontail a few years back,) and birds galore: cactus wrens, gnatcatchers, sparrows, Cooper's, redtail, and red-shouldered hawks. 

The kids enjoy counting the small mammals, reptiles and birds. Lots of lizards, chipmunks, and cottontails. Swallows, hawks, and the gift of a roadrunner at the end of the trail! Reminds me of my favorite childhood poem, the one I've remembered by heart (after I read a book called SECRET OF THE SEVEN CROWS by Wylly Folk St. John in 4th grade!)   

A Gathering of Crows

One crow for sorrow,
Two crows for joy,
Three crows for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five crows for silver,
Six crows for gold,

Seven crows for a secret never to be told.

Except there's no sorrow out in Peter's Canyon. Every animal we see equals joy, silver & gold. Counting animals out here connects us to this place. Makes us see how wild things truly do share our urban space. Makes us want to protect it all. 

In spring, the reservoir is full, glossy gray and blue. The hills are velvety green, and the kids run through clover fields. The striking contrast of the sunny, yellow flowers with the lime-colored clover leaves is heavenly. It seems as if we can pick 1000 flowers and make no dent. It is a field of dreams. Of happiness. 

Summer approaches, and the clovers disappear. Transformation of color.  Texture. Feeling. Green to beige, rusty brown. The water in reservoir decreases, and it greens up to a shiny emerald. Along the trail, cactus flowers burst open, taking the sunshiny place of the clover flower. Purple, prickly thistles. Welcoming sunflowers. Paper-thin, delicate poppies.

We share the trail with horses, and a mountain biker or two. But people are pleasant. Orange County can be a happy place. And along the trail, I am happy to transform as well.

Adventure in your own backyard.

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