Well, there was April of course. It came and went and was followed by May, which came and went. Overall it has been a wet spring and a very wet winter which means a fabulous summer is upon us. What better month to usher in summer than June, the harbinger of summer. The summer solstice on June 21st is a bittersweet sort of day.The longest daylight of the year is something to celebrate, but the next day is shorter! Ahh, but at least it is changing. As Thoreau once said, “Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” Enjoy the change. It's the only permanent thing we have.
January and February were very wet. Really wet. Flooding wet. Questions? Ok, Lets get on with March! I usually say that February is the beginning of spring in West Sonoma County but this year may have been different. The rains have been relentless and the Russian river Flooded Gurneveille and the Barlow in Sebastopol. Of course we locals have seen the area of the Barlow flood many times, some of us having run motor boats down hwy 12 a time or two, and Gurneville floods all the time so it is not very remarkable really. But March promises to be a harbinger of a spring that is big and lush and vibrant! The creeks will run clear and fast and full and the grass will be tall and wavy and the flowers have no excuses! So let's see what is going on in this very springy month.
November sure was great wasn't it? Let's get on with December!
There is no question that December is winter. The deciduous trees have lost their leaves and the hills are greening up from recent rains. The days are getting insultingly short and the nights are long. Frost is not uncommon on December mornings and rain is pretty much assured for several days in December. For those of us that love the great outdoors the short days can be a challenge. For those of you staying at the Redwood House this is not a problem as you are on vacation! Slip into the hot tub on a frosty morning with a cup of Italian roast coffee and listen to the sound of silence. Put on a jacket and go for a hike or a rain jacket if rain is likely. Head into Occidental for breakfast, Graton for Lunch, Occidental for dinner and drive "the loop" in between. You just can't go wrong here in the winter. Let's see what's going on!
The Barlow: Here is the event calendar for the Barlow in Sebastopol.
Jenner Headlands Hike: Check this out! If the weather is clear this hike offers an epic view of the Sonoma coastline. Stop and get a cup of coffee at Duncans Mills on the way!
Kortum Trail: If the weather is decent consider a hike along this ocean bluff trail. You can access this trail as part of the loop drive in my things to do tab. Bring a jacket!
Wild Flour Bread Freestone: As I have always said, any excuse to drive to Freestone is a good one. Go to Wild Flour bakery in the morning. Get some fresh bread etc. Have a cup of coffee and check out their gardem which is active throughout winter. I would drive there via Bohemian Highway out of Occidental them come back by turning left on Bodega Highway heading uphill to Joy road back to Occidental road.
Grove of Old Trees: Look at my things to do tab and check this out. If its raining all the better. Very peaceful!
The tows of Occidental and Graton are great places to poke around this time of year. Have fun! J
October is the month that ushers in winter. The early weeks of October are typically beautiful with warm weather and few crowds. Usually by the end of the month we have had some rain and the transition from late summer to what looks like winter can happen in one day. After the first rains the forests smell like wet bay leaves and you can almost watch the grass begin to grow. Great time to enjoy the hot tub in the chilly evenings and put on those fall clothes you have been waiting to wear. Lets see what's going on remembering that the best events are those that are not published.
Hopmonk Tavern Sebastopol: Here is the music line up.
Jenner Headlands: You may consider checking this area out. It is about a 45 minute drive from the house but it is a beautiful piece of property overlooking the coast.
Red Hill: This is a great hike overlooking the ocean, Willow Creek valley and looking out over Jenner Headlands. If you would like to know how to get there just let me know. It's about 35 minutes from the house and incorporates my loop drive mentioned on my "things to do" tab.
Grove of Old Trees: Great time of year to take a walk through some big redwoods not far from the house!
On the first of August the band of summer is still playing and the party looks like it will never end! But by the middle of August the band is 2/3 of the way through its set and fall is in the air. The poison oak is turning red, the mornings are cooler and the days are shorter. The bees in the hives are ramping down their numbers in preparation for winter. But not to worry! Winter doesn't arrive until that magical day in October when you have a big bike ride planned and the rains begin to fall. Even then there are nice days until the end of October when the winds blow and the rain falls and....well, let's not get ahead of ourselves here. I will search for interesting happenings in the area, keeping in mind that the best things in life are free. Like Pascal once observed humanities problem is that people can't sit in a room alone. I agree. You have to at least have a glass of wine!
June was really great! Trust me! On to July, the true party month of summer. Everything is really at its summer best in July. The waters are swimmable, the hills are hikeable, the weather is likable, there are outdoor concerts and outdoor eateries. Everything about July shouts OUTDOORS! Occidental has many outdoor eating options and the outdoor farmers market on Fridays is lots of fun. Mexico Lindo in Graton has a great outdoor patio and then there are the multiple hikes in the area, some of which I have on my things to do page. So get out there while the weather is sublime, remembering of course that the best things in life are not things at all.
March is well into spring here in West Sonoma County. The willows get fuzzy, the iris have been blooming for weeks, the mustard is ablaze in yellow, and the hills are green. Rain is still likely during the month but typically the big storms are over. The beach weather can be quite windy but hiking in the hills is superb in March. Let's take a look around.... Update 3/16: There has been a lot of rain! It's going to be a great spring!
Well, that should get you started. Make sure to check out my "things to do" section of this website. And consider an evening at Barley and Hops in Occidental. Great beer selection, great atmosphere. Total winner!
So far the winter in West Sonoma County has been a bit on the dry side with no major storms. In spite of this a tree still fell down and missed the phone line by a few feet. If you aren't handy with a chain saw in these parts life can be very difficult indeed! The hills are green, the creeks are full, and the house is quite cozy these days. I mentioned in my last blog that Barley and Hops Tavern is a new venue in Occidental worth your attention. They have a great beer pub with an excellent selection of off beat local beers like Hen House IPA and the Russian River Pliney. The menu is solid casual Americana and the atmosphere is superb. So if this sounds like something you might like, check it out!!
The picture below is of a steelhead in Willow creek heading upstream to spawn. My wife and I hiked up Willow creek a couple of weeks ago and saw six steelhead. The creeks in the area are closed to fishing and there has been an ongoing effort to repopulate the creeks with steelhead and salmon. This steelhead appears to have an adipose fin which would make it a wild fish. We saw three otters at the mouth of Willow creek lying in wait for the poor buggers to make their way up the creek. Steelhead once spawned by the thousands up this creek before all the trees were cut down and the creeks destroyed by the logging. If you want directions to this area let me know. You will see that there are hundreds of huge old growth redwood stumps in this valley which was once a paradise ecology. While we can't go back and change the sad history, we can march forward to protect and restore. Seeing these fish truly made my day!
While posting this pic I lost all the rest of my January blog so rather than try to rewrite it while I am grumpy I will get to it tomorrow after a good hike up a local mountain.Stay tuned!
The gist of my blog for the month was this. Barley and Hops in Occidental is a fantastic new venue! They have a great selection of local beers at their beer pub and excellent casual Americana cuisine. Check them out for dinner when you come to town. Really a great place
Other than that, it is beautiful in West Sonoma County right now with green hills and other than the wild iris blooms, little sign of spring. The days are noticeably longer! February looms right around the corner.