family of blue-leafed oaks … usually narrow, blunt, untoothed dull blue-green leaves
found only in Southern California
Mesa Grande and the Santa Ysabel Valley support the largest remaining expanse of Engelmann oak woodland habitat
Last night a bit before sunset we walked a ways past the cattleguard and sat on an edge of the asphalt to look down a shallow crease toward more slopes, more oaks, more rocks. The sun went down orange behind us.
Under its high canopy, from its carpet of broad, lacy shadow, the blond slopes falling away in curves and creases. On the opposite slope, far away tiny cattle. On the nearer slope cattle too, and the smooth looping asphalt of new road laid grey through yellow. Behind us where we had come before dawn to see the eastern sky color was the house in its grove and beyond it, uphill, thick dark oak forest.
There’s a thick-trunked grandmother oak up against the treehouse windows of the west bedroom, another over the driveway at the front door.
A lot of crows making a racket down on one of the yellow humps, now flying west with an occasional bark. Oak shadows six or seven times their height. I think those two peaks northeast of Volcan – if that is Volcan – are burnt, they have a look of grey whiskers.
Whole lot more crows. Some little thing downhill chipping steadily in a tiny high voice. Quiet tapping I think in one of the pines. The hawk is cruising. Another little thing in the canopy above me saying chut-t-t. Something with a tuft and a long beak on the snag at the top of the pine. Something bigger saying braa-aa and answered from across the way. Raucous, must be jays.
Now the crickets have begun. Now dogs or coyotes to the southeast. Powdery mauve over the distance. This ridge is the north edge of a vast shallow bowl. It isn’t dark enough for rabbits yet.
The branches that curve down, that I see in front of me in small-leafed black cut-out, give so pleasing a sense of layered depth.
Now the last pink light is gone even from Volcan. The bird on the pine snag is smaller and silent. Orange and pink clotted behind the three lowest Coulters, their Japanese profiles. More barking higher up.
While I was away for two weeks it snowed heavily twice. When I got back there were large branches down all over the yard and even on the roof, especially under the oaks. The iron chair’s oak is fine but the tree next to my bed has lost a quarter of its canopy and even at night looks rumpled and distressed, with branch-stumps here and there and a broken limb hanging loose.