Happy Earth Day 2015… A Walkabout in Southern Oregon

White oak woodland in Southern Oregon in the Applegate Valley. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A variety of trees exist on the five acres around our home in Southern Oregon. These are white oaks. It looks like the Sherwood Forest of Robin Hood, or at least like I imagined it as a child. The road leads down to our house.

It’s Earth Day 2015. To celebrate, I am writing this post from a small deck Peggy and I had built on the upper portion of our property. I took the photo of white oaks from where I am sitting.

An Acorn Woodpecker is hammering away at a dead pine. He just stopped to issue a staccato comment on the day, a Woody Woodpecker laugh. I can also hear a Robin’s distinctive chirp— they are migrating through, scratching around for juicy bugs. Flickers and Stellar Jays join the chorus. The jays are discussing the fact I haven’t put out their morning helping of sunflower seeds. They are loud and raucous, hoping I will hear them. How could I not? I was soundly scolded on my walk up here.

As for the Flicker, he has gone to pounding on our roof vents several times a day. Who knows why, but it sounds like a jack hammer. It gets Peggy quite excitable and she charges around whacking our ceiling to scare him away. I’ve checked the roof, so far no damage. I am not so sure about the ceiling.

One very pregnant and obviously uncomfortable Black Tail doe walked by a few minutes ago. She’s restless. I watched her yesterday as she disappeared behind our pump house for a few minutes (it’s cool and shady), came out, munched on some grass, walked to our house, and plopped down against the side. She will be having her fawn soon, probably down in our blackberry filled canyon. We won’t see the baby for a week or two since does carefully hide their babies and insist that they remain hidden for several days.

Pregnant doe on Upper Applegate River in Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

The ballooning mom-to-be leans against our house and looks at me with her big brown eyes. It’s like she is saying, “Really, now what?” The deer are used to being lectured by Peggy about eating her flowers.

A cool, fresh breeze is blowing. Puffy clouds float by. The wind is welcome; it’s been hazy for the past few days. The weather people tell us that the haze is caused by smoke blowing in from Siberia. Apparently fires that Siberian farmers were using to clear their fields escaped. Our earth, this seemingly huge planet, is a small place after all. We are all neighbors. If people choose to pollute the air, discharge waste into water, cut down forests, and litter the landscape with the leftovers of modern civilization, it impacts all of us. We all suffer.

Haze from Siberia fills the valleys between our homes and the Red Butte Mountains.

Haze from Siberia fills the valleys between our home and the Red Butte Mountains.

But enough doom and gloom—today is a day to celebrate the natural beauty of our earth. Let’s go for a walk. We will start at the Applegate River at the bottom of our property and move up the hill to the National Forest boundary marker. I’ve built signed trails throughout our property and named them after our grandkids (all boys). Ethan’s Hidden Springs Trail and Connor’s Jungle Trail are examples. The first thing the kids do when they arrive is run off to explore their trails. It is Peggy and my hope that we can instill in our grandchildren the same love of the natural world and desire to protect it that we have.

A Note: I wrote this piece and did our walk yesterday so this post could go up today.

This beautiful river flows out of the Siskiyou Mountains a few miles away from out home.

This beautiful river flows out of the Siskiyou Mountains a few miles away from our home.

Cold, pure water.

Looking down into the river.

I scrambled over and down these rocks to get to the river. Bureau of Land Management land is on the opposite shore.

I scrambled over and down these rocks to get to the river. Bureau of Land Management land is on the opposite shore.

This handsome guy is a mere shell of his former self, literally. I believe it was a dragonfly nymph before the dragonfly popped out of the shell and flew away.

This handsome guy is a mere shell of his former self, literally. I believe it was a dragonfly nymph before the dragonfly popped out and flew away in one of the miracles of nature.

Likely native American grinding rock on the Applegate River in Southern Oregon.

Located among the rocks is what Peggy and I suspect was a Native American grinding rock.

Lichen on river rock of the Applegate River in southern Oregon.

Lichens (from my perspective) always make interesting photos.

Here's a closeup.

Here’s a closeup.

Now it is time to hike up the hill. Our small 1500 foot with its sunroom is perched on the side. The tall tree on the right is a Douglas Fir.

Now it is time to hike up the hill. Our small 1500 square foot house with its sunroom is perched on the side. The tall tree on the right is a Douglas Fir.

Our fence is designed to fit into the local environment.

Our front fence is designed to fit into the local environment.

While oaks dominate the northern side of our property, Ponderosa Pines, Douglas Fir and Madrones dominate the south. I've created signed trails running through our property and named them after the grandkids such as Ethan's Hidden Spring's Trail and Connors Jungle Trail.

While oaks dominate the northern side of our property, Ponderosa Pines, Douglas Fir and Madrones dominate the south. This is Ethan’s Hidden Spring Trail.

Ponderosa Pines growing in the Upper Applegate Valley near Applegate Lake.

The trees, like these Ponderosa Pines, grow quite tall.

Ponderosa Pine growing at the 2000 foot elevation on the Upper Applegate River.

Check out this beauty.

Large Madrone growing near Applegate River in southern Oregon.

This large Madrone with its unique bark lives next to our house.

Madrones shed their leaves in summer. It is like having two falls. The shadow of a fly can be seen through the leaf. Shortly afterwards it flew down to bite me. Bad decision.

Madrones shed their leaves in summer. It is like having two falls. The shadow of a fly can be seen through the leaf. Shortly afterwards it flew down to bite me. Bad decision.

Signs of animal life are found throughout the property. This large hole was probably drilled by a Pileated Woodpecker.

Signs of animal life are found throughout the property. This large hole was probably drilled by a Pileated Woodpecker.

Cat eye flower grown in the Upper Applegate River Valley.

Flowers were few and far between on my walk but I did find this interesting cat eye.

One of the reasons we bought our property was this sign, a boundary marker for the Klamath National Forest that borders the back of our property.

One of the reasons we bought our property was this sign, a boundary marker for the Klamath National Forest that borders the back of our property. Between Klamath and other national forests, over a million acres of public lands are found out our back door.

While our front fence is a fairly serious fence, our back fence is strictly for aesthetics. It is an open invitation to the deer, cougars, bear and other wildlife that live in the forest to "come on down." We'd even welcome Bigfoot. (grin.)

While our front fence is a fairly serious fence, our back fence is strictly for aesthetics. It is an open invitation to the deer, cougars, bear and other wildlife that live in the national forest to “come on down.” We’d even welcome Bigfoot. (grin.) HAPPY EARTH DAY.

34 comments on “Happy Earth Day 2015… A Walkabout in Southern Oregon

    • Glad you enjoyed them, Carrie. My hope is always that our children, grandchildren, and right on down the line, can continue to enjoy the wonderful natural world that we have been able to enjoy. –Curt

    • Peggy and I love it, Bill. We wake up every morning with a smile and deeply appreciate the natural beauty and peacefulness of our home. It is always our pleasure to share. —Curt

    • Thanks Alison. I am always torn between being on the open road and being here. But if you have to find a place to settle, this is hard to beat. Don’t know where you are now, but New Zealand has always struck me an being a piece of paradise as well, particularly the west coast of the South Island. –Curt

  1. What beautiful sights you have there on your walk. No more walking around here for me – we’re into the 90s already – so it’s treadmill-in-the-airconditioning-time for me now.

  2. Great idea about naming trails after the grandkids. You are creating a link to nature for them that will never be broken.

  3. After an extended absense from my blog-reading duties, I’ve been trying to catch up with my favourites, one at a time. Today my goal was to read yours, and after I got over the shock of how many I missed, I realized it was an excellent place to pick up again. A tribute to our mother on the morning after Mother’s Day.

    You and Peggy live in paradise. What lovely, lovely land. I would have been as excited about the National Forest boundary as you are. My new place that I’m trying to buy is in Rainier, Oregon, and I finally get to be out in the country again. It doesn’t have the fabulous trees that you have though. I especially love Madrone for its uniqueness.

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