September 6th, 2004

caillebotte_the orangerie

Tree Picture

The digger pines are few at my elevation. Here, there are mostly ponderosas and tall mountain oaks, both of which species need considerable amounts of water to grow well. The digger pines prefer the lower slopes of the piedmont, where they thrive in the dry climate. In between, there is a zone which the two coniferous species share. These two digger pines are just below that zone, in an area where there are olive groves. Like the cultivated trees near which they grow, there is something Mediterranean in the look of digger pines, but I also see something vaguely Japanese in their varied shapes.

The ponderosas, unless they have been damaged, are quite symmetrical, and their lower branches swoop downward. Each ponderosa looks much like the next. The asymmetrical, aspiring branches of the digger pines give them considerable individuality of appearance. From the distance, they can look much like bonsai. They tend to be scattered, and the oaks among which most of them grow are short, allowing a clear view of the tall conifers from a great distance. Of all the trees native to this region, the digger pines are my favorite.

Digger Pines

Digger Pines

rudisuhli_demon of love


The air has thickened with brown haze, and visibility is greatly reduced. They must be burning rice stubble in the valley. There might be brush fires somewhere, too, but I've heard nothing of them, and I detect no smell of burning brush today. The condition probably owes something to the ever-increasing smog of the Sacramento valley, too. As the pollution grows, it invades the mountains more frequently. The combination of heat and pollution is oppressive, and the smoggy months of summer were always those I found most unpleasant in Los Angeles. One of the compensations of living in the middle of nowhere is the absence of such days. If the air quality continues to deteriorate here, and the congestion to grow worse, it will eventually become a place with the disadvantages of Los Angeles and none of the advantages. Then it would certainly be time to leave.