Vivian Smith in her book When Wanderers Cease to Roam describes February; "Take the worst day you had in January and repeat it 28 times. That's February." She can be forgiven having written that while living on Long Island Sound. But of course February can't possibly be like that this year because it is a leap year and the much maligned month has 29 days! Aside from that technicality, February in Sonoma County is the unofficial start of spring. The mustards are turning the meadows and orchards and vineyards bright yellow and the pussy willows are leafing out and the wild iris is blooming and the California poppy can be seen dotting the hillsides. Spring is well underway in February stealing some of March's thunder. So in the words of Henry David Thoreau, "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." And the influence of February ain't bad!
The late fall has been another interesting one in West Sonoma county. I gather the fire fighter community got tired of chasing people out of their houses in the wee hours during the last fire so the entire area was evacuated this time around. The fire was quite far from the house but the winds were concerning and the power had been shut down etc. That is likely all behind us now but I am going to install a propane generator that will power the entire house given that PG&E has grown quite fond of these public safety power shut-offs. So late fall continues to be unpredicatble in these parts!
In other news, the beer and food is still great at Barley and Hops in Occidental. Howards Station Cafe still makes for a great place to eat breakfast in Occidental as well as Willowood Cafe in Graton. The local wineries are going strong and winter is on the way! So get out those winter clothes you have been waiting to wear and see what there is to see!
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!