Old Old Dogs

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To walk without a dog is like walking without clothes--alarming!  But the dogs are old now--not quite old enough to vote or drive a car, but close, and too old for a long hike.

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So we had to leave them home when we went for our post-Thankgiving hike.   I gave thanks for forgetting how good everything tastes when bathed in heavy cream.  Once-yearly indulgence in that kind of cooking is enough.   We spent a few hours trudging through the local canyon, enjoying the spectacular clear warm weather, and examining the native vegetation.  There are the usual alien intruders:  Eucalyptus, Pennisetum, Palm, Schinus molle.

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This canyon was cattle-grazing land for decades.  The native survivors are the ones less tasty to cattle, I guess.  The majority are Artemisia californica...

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...mixed in is Eriogonum fasciculatum, now just greening up for the rainy season...
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...and Salvia clevelandii, different from what I grew in our garden...smaller and far less prosperous,  but still thriving:
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...last winter's seedpods beautiful against clear sky...
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...I was surprised and pleased to see a few Fremontodendron californicum.  We must go back to this spot in a few months to see the show of yellow flowers.  Now there is just foliage and last year's seed heads.  May they all sprout new plants.

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We also spotted a few Baccharis, snowy with again, last years flowers, now this years seed heads...

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This robust specimin was about 6'x10':
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Besides the common Opuntia littoralis, we found what might be Cylindropuntia fulgida (?).  I avoid Cactus when reading as well as when shopping--too spiny--so my knowledge is very thin here, even thinner than usual.  An intruder to this area, perhaps, though not to the Southwest.
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I once thought the native plants were weedy and dull:
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They were, until I got to know them and appreciate them.  Perfectly attuned to their climate, they are beautiful in their wary, reserved, and subtle way.  They are like old, old dogs, who are sleepy most of time, but quite ready to jump up for treats--biscuits in their case, precious rain water in the case of our native plants.  We can come to love them, as we love old, old dogs. 

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