Mountain Life

Stormy mountainsI live in the mountains.  Not technically in the actual mountain mountains, but in a valley surrounded by mountains.  At an elevation of 3000 ft. and being that I am in Northern California we are in what the Sunset gardening book calls a zone 1.  That means at any time of the year we can get snow or a freeze.  Yup, ever heard of snow in July?  Well it has actually happened here.  Not to me personally, but it has happened.

Usually though, the weather is pretty typical.  The past few days have been in that category after a week of nights down in the twenties.  We’ve had sun, a little too much, and warm temps, a bit more than I want.  But it’s finally Spring.
I mowed the lawns the other night, which is a challenge and a half using the electric mower (my parents say the gas is way worse, quit complaining) and dealing with all the excess weeds and various rock piles I may or may not run over.  But oh, when the lawn is mowed it looks so lovely.  Perfect.  Even the tall weed patches have some defined shape.
Throw in a sweet resinous smell that comes down from the mountains after the pines have baked all day in the sun, and then good clean spring smell and you have somewhat the epitome of the mountains.  Okay, it is actually better when you smell wood smoke but that was nixed the other  due to it being warm.  However there were the distant sounds of a dance going on at the small rodeo grounds.  Today is our annual local rodeo.  A joke in itself.  I’ve been once and I’m not impressed, but I love the sounds that come up from the rodeo grounds.  And it turns out after going up into town today and seeing the signs posted that it wasn’t a dance but actual rodeo proceedings.  Personally I would rather picture a rodeo dance on the grounds.  More fun, inspirational, romantic that way.

The mountains are cool, unique and very much me.  I told my cousin recently that was a city girl, and it’s very true. I am very girly girly, though I have to stick with jeans and boots most of the time due to living in the country/mountains.  However, I while I would love to wear heels and skirts more, have sidewalks and stores that actually carry what I want, I love being in the mountains.  I love that a storm can come up out of nowhere, which it did today. I love being able to step out at night and see all the constellations and stars.  Oh the stars you can see in the mountains.  So clear, so bright. I love the smell of pine, sweet grass, and cow manure.  I love seeing all the birds and having deer walking down the street, a la Northern Exposure style.  The mountains are kind of my home place.  I don’t have an actual home place after moving around all my life, but I could say I feel most at home in the mountains.

Signing off

~Kate

Hazy Shade of Summer

We sat there in the sun, my sister and I, baking, warming from an altogether freezing dip in the pool.  Though 73 is far from cold, it was a shock to our systems.  Rugburn, my dachshund, crashes in the sun, drying from his unwanted swim in the pool.  He rubs his face dry in the long grass.  Scratching, Rubbing. Rolling.  A lazy, contented daze crosses his face as he stares at a floating hover fly a few from him.
 
The sun has that September feel to it.  Burning, but subtly different from the blazing, burn of July.  More hazy.  I feel the heat from it, warming my back.  A warm breeze blows down from the mountain, bringing the sweet resinous scent of pines that have baked all day in the sun.  Warm sweetness of dried grasses intertwine with dry dusty earth.  A brush of sweet smoke.  A faint flavor of cow manure graces the breeze.  Not unpleasant.

The lawn is weedy again.  With plantain seed heads and wide-bladed meadow grass that grows three times faster than the soft mountain grass.  It needs to be mowed, but then it will lose it’s last summer feel to revert back to the clipped neatness of full on summer.

Sunflowers are heavy with seeds, though the golden disks are still blooming wildly at the top of ten foot spires.  The trees are heavy with winded seeds.  Rustling gently in the wind.  There is a lazy feel to everything as flies buzz restlessly.  The yarrow has gone to seed.  Weedy heads like too tall trees sway slightly.  Stellars jays chatter raucously  as they fly over.   Landing to call from a tree.

Tomatoes are ripening.  Bright red globes of juicy sweetness.  Sweet berries hidden in cane patches demand munching.  Grapes hang from spiraled vines.  Warm and sweet with juice.  Golden hard squashes ripen on vigorous growing vines.  Consuming flat ground, seeking purchase.

I watched a dragonfly zip by a wheelbarrow before landing for a moment.  Rusty brown with etherial wings.  He buzzed off in a hurry, to who knows where.

This weather demands pitchers of iced tea and good books to be read on a porch swing.  Naps to be taken in a hammock.  Endless games of croquet to be played leisurely.

Signing off

~Kate