Behind me, a flock of Elegant Terns kept rising, wheeling and calling before settling down again. A Great Blue Heron swallowed an enormous fish after slapping it about for a while. We each did our thing, and I came home sated and peaceful. I never regret visiting this place.

agave americana

Agave americana (maguey) is a huge, sharp, blue-green succulent that blooms once, then dies. The flower spike ranges from 12-25 feet (3.5-7.5m) in height — this one by our driveway is just getting started. The bloom trigger mechanism is not well understood, but it generally flowers at about 10 years of age. The fruit are edible — I’ll be collecting and sautéing them when the time comes.

white-lined sphinx moth

I found this big fatty in the bathroom this morning. It’s a White-lined Sphinx Moth, also known as a hummingbird moth, so called because, in poor light, it can be mistaken for a hummingbird as it hovers at tubular flowers, sipping nectar with a long proboscis. Adult moths have a wingspan of up to 90mm/3.5 inches.

Here’s hoping no eggs get laid in the veggie garden. According to this article, “Larvae can occasionally occur in tremendous numbers and can move in hordes in search of food, consuming entire plants and covering roadways in slick masses.” Fun times!

red-winged blackbird

Red-winged Blackbirds are apparently “one of the most abundant birds across North America” but Saturday was the first time I’ve observed any. They hang out in wet places, and we don’t have very many of them around here! The males are so handsome and showy, with their bright orange epaulettes which they puff up as they call.

Sketched from a photo by Ashok Khosla.

nicholas flat

While painting this, I could hear a group of young kids delightedly catching lizards. I was torn between ‘free range parent’ and ‘state park docent’ as I wondered if I should fondly recall the joys of childhood or admonish them not to hurt or take the animals. I said nothing, but I had all the feels.

la parrilla (“the grill”)

This restaurant facade is actually a garish combo of red, orange and yellow, but I thought I’d save you from getting a headache, and just serve it up in gritty city shades of grey. Every time I have to go into the deeps of Los Angeles I come home so very grateful that I don’t live there.

I never promised you a rose garden

The Exposition Park Rose Garden is a historic 7-acre site containing more than 20,000 rose bushes and more than 200 varieties. My favourite parts of it are the corners, where no roses are growing. This is the south-west corner, tucked between the Natural History Museum and the space shuttle’s external fuel tank.

mariposa lilies

Mariposa — or “butterfly” in Spanish — is a fitting name for these ethereal flowers that thrive in harsh environments despite their delicate appearance. The mariposa lily is capable of surviving in hot, dry conditions, often on rocky outcrops where other plants cannot grow. These ones are clinging to the very edge of an erosion channel — it’s easy to surmise that many more washed away in the December rain when this section of the cliff collapsed.