George and I headed out to Muir Woods National State Park for our traditional New Year's walk. The weather was wonderfully clear, with the sun shafting in places through the thick redwood canopy.
If you've read my previous Muir Woods posts about our rainy 2011 walk and our 2010 walk, you know that one aim of our annual trek is to search for a tiny Lily flower, the first native flower that blooms in California in the winter. Scoliopus bigelovii is the Latin name, it's also called Fetid Adders Tongue (it has a slight unpleasant scent), and other nicknames are slink pod and brownie. Ta-da! Once again, in the same location we've found them in years past, we were excited to see that the brownies were, indeed, there!
Scoliopus bigelovii means "crooked foot", because the flower stalk curves over after the flower is pollinated and grows too heavy for the slender stalk. The flowers are quite small, at most about an inch, and the entire plant ranges from 3 to 6 inches tall. The leaves, large in comparison to the flowers, are covered with wonderful brown spots.
See my photo of one flower just poking its head up, the leaves still curled tightly around. Brownies often have spikes of two, three, or more flowers. The next photo is an extreme closeup, remember the flowers are only an inch at most. Looking down at them, hidden from all but the most dedicated brownie stalker, then up at the redwoods, is awe-inspiring.
George reminded me that last year Redwood Creek was dry, but it's running strong now. And with the full creek comes salmon! A first for both of us -- we staked out a location where George thought the female Coho salmon might want to lay her eggs, and soon after we saw a male and female drifting in a calm spot, darting occasionally to find a good place to spawn. Such a thrill!
And so as 2012 draws to a close, George and I wish you a most Happy Happy New Year, full of all of the things that inspire you, bring you joy, and fill you with love.