digger bees

A large section of our hiking trail was a-buzz with bees, and it was quickly apparent that the action was happening on and close to the ground. Not knowing much about these ‘ground bees’, we gave them wide berth and I did some research when I got home.

What I learned was so fascinating, that V & I went back yesterday to observe them more closely. Each bee, laden with pollen, was crawling into a hole then emerging a few seconds later to collect more. How did she know which hole was hers? How long will she live after her work is done?

Now we know where they are, we’ll try to go back in 10 months to see the next generation come forth and mate. Fun!

mitten rock

I paid a visit to Rocky Oaks Park today, a great place for a 1 hour easy hike. The wildflowers are abundant right now, and the only other person there was a scientist (?) collecting data down by the pond. At least I assume that was what she was doing with her clipboard and frequent stooping. We waved to each other from a distance and I continued on my way.


I took Bodie out to (dog-friendly) Charmlee Wilderness Park yesterday for a three-mile hike. It had probably been about nine years since we were last there. She was pretty excited to visit someplace new, and smell all the critters. The wildflowers are popping, and the area seems to be recovering well from the 2018 Woolsey Fire.

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.

mott adobe ruins

In 1910, Johnny Mott, a famous LA attorney, built an adobe home on the banks of Malibu Creek, in what was then Crag’s Country Club. It was reported in the Los Angeles Times that Mott’s longtime friend, President Herbert Hoover, was a frequent guest. 

When 20th Century Fox bought the property in 1946, the adobe was retained as a movie set. You can see it in “Viva Zapata!” (1952), starring Marlon Brando, but by 1970 it had fallen into ruins. 

The Mott Adobe ruins are now part of Malibu Creek State Park, and only the dramatic stone fireplace is left standing.

newton canyon

I’ve been driving past the Newton Canyon trailhead on Kanan for, oh, 25 years. Today I finally hiked it. It’s very pretty! The canyon sunflowers are out in full force, with lupins about to bust out all over.

When I stopped to sketch the view, I discovered that I didn’t have my usual brushes with me. All I had was a skinny little water brush, which is not my favourite tool. I tried to make the best of it …

warrior’s plume

It was another windy, chilly day at the coast so I headed over the hill to my favourite sheltered trail, the section of the Backbone between Piuma Rd and Tapia Park, also known as Piuma Ridge Trail. I love that place—it’s shady, ferny, moist, and mostly human-free. Perfect for just sitting on a mossy rock and breathing it all in with eyes closed, enjoying my daily dose of nature therapy.

I saw an interesting and new-to-me plant, so did some sketch-noting and looked it up when I got home. It’s Warrior’s Plume (Pedicularis densiflora), a perennial root parasitic herb that attaches to the roots of other plants to obtain nutrients and water. I only saw a few plants; I wonder how widespread it is. It doesn’t appear on the 1983 list of the Flora of Malibu Creek State Park, so maybe it’s a more recent arrival, or perhaps it’s too rare to have made it on the list? Regardless, it’s very pretty!