Nevada County Sketches

I returned to the South Yuba River, along the Buttermilk Bend Trail. This time I was with my sister-in-law and my two nieces and nephew.

At this time the hillside reflected the state of California’s drought, which was sans flowers and golden-brown.

We walked about a mile down the trail (up river) and then headed down to the South Yuba River for some nature loafing. The oldest, used her time taking pictures of the rock and river, the middle boy commenced to design and build his own cairn, and the youngest aggressively nature loafed along the riverside.

And Corvid Sketcher does what he always does when near a river: throw rocks or do a sketch and I did both. My river sketch is the featured sketch.

When we returned to my mother’s house I found a new subject to sketch: the active acorn woodpecker nest in the backyard. The nesting cavity was in a valley oak and the begging calls of the nestlings could be heard every time an adult few up with food.

An adult acorn woodpecker with, what else, acorns. I love the symmetry of the perfect circle of the nesting cavity entrance.
Feeding the young is truly family affair with the parents and members of last year’s clutch helping to collect food for the growing acorn young.

Nature Loafing

“Adopt the pace of Nature. Her secret is patience.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

With the rest of the school year relegated to distant learning, I decided to spend the remainder of the last trimester at my cabin in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

This was an easy decision because I could be in a place that I love and also have access to everything I needed in my digital classroom to stay connected with my students, parents, and coworkers. In the wooded hills I could really stretch out and breath fresh air while experiencing the world coming alive as Spring was upon us in the San Lorenzo River Watershed.

The calls of Wilson’s warbler, California towhee, and song sparrow was the soundtrack to my mornings and the hoot of the great horned owl dueting across the valley was my evensong.

There is also much more elbow room in Santa Cruz County. A comparison of the population and area of Santa Cruz and San Francisco Counties is telling. The 2019 population of Santa Cruz County is 273,213 compared to 881,549 in San Francisco. The City and County of San Francisco is much smaller, it being hemmed in on three sides by water. The City is 231 square miles compared to the expansive 607 square miles of Santa Cruz County.

It also gave me a opportunity to do one of my favorite activities: nature-loafing. I define nature-loafing as being in nature and actively doing nothing. This definition really captures the oxymoronic nature of this non-pursuit. No agenda, no plan, just being there and being in the moment. All the stress and strain of sheltering in place and distant learning just drains out of me and flows downstream to the Pacific.

Of course I never just nature-loaf because I am also nature sketching at the same time. Like the feature sketch for this post of my hammock-view with my feet pointed upstream and my head downstream.

One of my favorite places to nature-loaf is on the banks of the San Lorenzo and one of my favorite actives is Power Hammocking.

Near Rocky Beach are two alders that are lined up parallel to the course of the river. They are about 15 feet apart and demand that a hammock be strung between; a perfect nature-loafing platform!

My nature loafing stage with the San Lorenzo River on the right.