Jul 17, 2009

In Town

I came back from the Russian River yesterday afternoon after the best week I've had in ages. I rode my bike well over 100 miles, hiked many more, swam in cool creeks and rivers, and read about 60 articles on invasive species and urban habitat. I took public transit and my bike between SF and my friends' place in Sonoma County. It cost me $23 round trip and then there was food and beer, and $2 for two 15 minute internet interactions. As I have a future in debt (oh, education) this is about as much as I can afford to spend on traveling right now.

The next few posts here will be from writing I did while I was away.

Yesterday I left San Francisco on Golden Gate Transit, my bike bouncing on a rack on the front of the coach for 2+ hours. One transfer and a total of 3.5 hours later, I was in Guerneville, 60 miles from the city, picking up provisions before biking the final 8 miles to my friends’ vacant house on Austin Creek. Weighted down with an onerous rucksack – full of work – I pedaled happily above the Russian River, heading west through perfectly spaced patches of afternoon sun and redwood shade. Typical of river roads, Hwy 116 is winding but mostly flat. Pulling over in some shade to adjust the groceries strapped to my bike rack, I had the fortune to hear and see two ospreys (?) tending their nest atop a redwood across the road.

Arriving at my friends’ place, I began cataloguing diversity in that neurotic way that has progressed beyond hobby to veritable tick: “Native species: Sequoia sempervirens, Polystichum munitum, Toxicodendron diversilobum, Stachys ajugoides! Non-natives: Torilis nodosa <sigh>, Hedera helix <ugh>, Pennisetum clandestinum. ” I thought it might be a nice thank you to give my friends a species list for their place. So I stood on their deck, cataloguing plants in the yard that I can identify. I came up with 20 and am resisting the urge to include management recommendations for the weeds. Though I will have to mention control of the English ivy (Hedera helix) as it is poised to kill several of their trees, including 4 Sequoias.

After changing into river shoes I waded along Austin Creek, surprised to find runs of deep, clear water to enjoy. I’ve known this creek to swell during the rainy season, like April 2006, when Blake and I visited during torrential storms. Both sick as fuck, we drank tea from giant mugs and put together a puzzle with crossed fingers, hoping that the hill behind us wouldn’t collapse in a landslide and that the creek downslope would stop rising. I’ve also seen this channel de-watered by May, walked the entire length along the bed, only finding stagnant, green pools from which I restrained thirsty dogs. Such is California. Robust, iconic redwoods, coastal bluffs and the Sierra, but also delicate, variable grasslands,watercourses, and vernal pools, which may overwhelm one year but fail the next.

I read myself into dreams of wild creatures, again conjuring a scene of a banana slug driving a riding lawn mowe
r. I can’t believe I’ve had that dream twice.

Partial Species List
Below is a partial species list for my friends' property. I left my flora at home so that I wouldn't spend my entire vacation puzzling over plant id, so I've only captured species that I already know. I hope to go back sometime for a complete survey ... and to control the Hedera helix. I made the list for my friends, so it's sorted for utility, not scientific publication. First by native or non-native, then plant type, then alphabetized by scientific name, though with the common name first as it's probably most useful to my friends.

Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina) - native.
Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum) – native.
Western Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum) - native.

Fern Allies:
Giant Horsetail (Equisetum telmateia) – native.

Big leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) native.
Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) – native.

California blackberry (Rubus urnisus) - native.
Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) – native.

Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) – native.
Redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregana) - native.
Rigid hedge nettle (Stachys ajugoides var. ajugoides) –native, endemic.

Grasses, Rushes, Sedges:
Tall Cyperus Sedge (Cyperus eragrostis) - native.

English Ivy (Hedera helix) – non-native, invasive.
Everlasting Pea (Lathyrus latifolius) – non-native, invasive.

Italian Thistle (Carduus
pycnocephalus) – non-native, invasive.
Cut-leaf Geranium (Geranium dissectum) non-native.
Forget-me-not (Myosotis latifolia) non-native, potentially invasive.
Western Pellitory (Parietaria judaica) non-native.
English Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) non-native, invasive.
Hedge Parsley (Torilis nodosa) non-native, invasive.

Grasses, Rushes, Sedges:
Kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) – non-native, invasive.
Annual Beardgrass (Polypogon monspeliensis) non-native.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a blast! I work at a drug rehab in Oklahoma and this venture sounds like something we do out here every weekend only probably not as breathtaking as San Francisco. I enjoyed reading your article.