We had a few new people at Greenspace Nature Club this month, so we began with introductions. The children innocently included their ages and some of the adults proudly added theirs.  Ages ranged from 4 to 70+.

     After reading from Jan Timbrooks’ book Chumash Ethnobotany about Native Americans’ medicinal uses for rose hips, we headed up the Washburn Trail just north of Cambria in search of wild rose bushes and nearby also spotted a well-hidden woodrat nest (as shown in the photos).  We continued up the trail chewing anise seeds, watching for birds, frogs and turtles, and were careful not to step in the coyote scat on the path. Where are the bushes that produced the berries this coyote enjoyed?             

     After crossing the wetlands and heading up the hill toward the forest, we came across many piles that looked like woodrat nests but were definitely manmade.  Were they piled for burning? No, too close to the trees.  Our conclusion:  an offering of habitat for the smaller animals and insects which are food for bigger animals.  Someone commented that they were not as “pretty” as the natural woodrat nest.

     Now we were getting closer to a place that we had visited before and labeled the Fairy Glen. Sometimes Monarch butterflies can be spotted in the Monterey Pines here.  We prepared ourselves by doing an exercise to increase awareness of our peripheral vision:

Put your arms out and while focusing on a point in front of you, then slowly move your arms to the side noticing when they disappear from your sight. Now consciously engage your entire field of vision to notice any movement.

We were ready to enter the glen quietly, looking for movement there and in the trees. Frogs called back and forth, maybe to warn each other of our presence even though we were trying to be quiet.

     A small, prescribed burn had occurred in this area. Someone commented on the smokey smell.  We wondered what happens to the insects during a burn.  We lifted some of the charred wood and were pleased to find “Rollie Pollies” (also spelled Roly-Poly).  We compared a photo of a root system taken two years ago when we were here.  The stump had aged and changed, and so have we!  Everything in nature is constantly changing.  As we felt the darkening of the forest it was time to head back.  Our footsteps echoed over the bridge, and our oldest youngster gave us the treat of singing a song she had written. A perfect ending to a perfect afternoon.

     Young and less young, we meet the third Sunday of the month at 3:00 p.m. to explore the natural wonders of our area. If you would like to join us, please send an email (mdavis5855@gmail.com) or phone 818-645-6987.