I can’t say I’m a fan of ground squirrels, given the harm they do to our hillside and garden. But this little fella reaching up to grab some slender oats was pretty darn cute.
After completing this sketch, I was hiking back down the trail, and met a group of young adults on their way up. One guy asked me if there was asparagus growing nearby, because he’d just picked and eaten some. Uh … no. There is no asparagus growing here. After reminding him that all plants in the Park are protected, and that some are poisonous, we parted ways. A little further down the track I found the broken plant. I knew it was some kind of lily about to flower, but it wasn’t till I got home I learned that it was Toxicoscordion fremontii (Frémont’s deathcamas or common star lily). As the name suggests, it’s highly toxic to livestock and humans.
I hope he’s OK, but … what a foolish human being! People, don’t go eating plants in the wild unless you know for sure what they are!
The scene is sketched from the same spot as yesterday’s, but now facing northwest instead of southeast. The Meadow at Malibu Creek State Park won’t be green for much longer; it was lovely to enjoy its verdure for a whole weekend.
Just back from a fabulous Field Ecology Weekend, camping with the Malibu Creek and Topanga State Park docents, and learning from a wide range of teachers. I have many pages of notes to review and digest, and new areas of interest to pursue. Obsidian knapping and animal tracking were highlights!
So many trees and wildflowers to sketch, but this stump is what caught my attention.
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.
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.
We have a lending library for docents at MCSP, and yesterday I discovered this treasure: Field Book of Western Wild Flowers by Margaret Armstrong, published in 1915. It’s a small, thick book, filled with 500 black and white illustrations and 48 watercolour plates, and the most delightful plant descriptions. Example (Easter Bells, p 28):
“A patch of these flowers bordering the edge of a glacier, as if planted in a garden-bed, is a sight never to be forgotten. Pushing their bright leaves right through the snow they gayly swing their golden censers in the face of winter and seem the very incarnation of spring.”
Makes me want to gayly swing my golden censer 😁
You can see the text here on Gutenberg, but of course holding the hundred year old book in one’s hands is an infinitely more special experience. I’ve borrowed it, and I’m already feeling sad about the day I need to return it to the shelves.
I did my first stint in the MCSP Visitor Center today, where they have a lot of taxidermy animals and birds. This sketch was done from one such specimen. Learn something new every day!