If you see a raccoon in your plum tree — usually a day before the fruit is ripe — the coarse fur and shining eyes are not a welcome sight. Ditto if the critter is neck-deep in your cat bowl.
But if you see the same raccoon in a creek with its young, perhaps under moonlight, the varmint is transformed into a wonder of nature.
Last weekend a bunch of us loaded up kayaks and dumped into the Sacramento River near the Sundial Bridge. With the “supermoon” shining, Tecnu, sunscreen and a rain poncho, everything was as it should be.
For three days we gazed at osprey and eagles, paddled under the wings of vultures and skimmed past otter and a bobcat.
You can peruse a few photos at: http://goo.gl/rvtW.
I’m partial to plants grown from seed packets, but I have a strong appreciation for flowers wherever they live.
In nature, we call flowering plants “wildflowers.” But in our yards these plants would be yanked.
The first night along the river we landed somewhere near Anderson. Fish jumped, the moon rose — huge and pulsing — and water lapped slowly against our semi-beached watercraft.
At dusk I noticed the evening primrose near the river’s high water mark.
Something strange happens when you’re camping — hot dogs and canned beans taste delicious and weeds take on a majestic beauty.
In 2012 I spent hours near a creek in Paradise waiting for
evening primrose to open. This tall plant is distinct — just as the day begins to cool, yellow flowers burst open. The blooms last into the next day and then begin to shrivel.
You can watch a video of the flower popping here: http://goo.gl/sXoQq.
Catching the bloom accidentally is a magical surprise. If you’re intentionally waiting, you will invariably be devoured by mosquitoes.
Last year, we gathered the seeds. The plan was to offer them to readers.
Yet, just a few days later the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office called to report on a new weed plaguing rice farmers — the evil and invasive Winged primrose willow, http://goo.gl/1ZYfk.
I couldn’t tell the difference without expert advice, so the seeds were never offered.
It would be just my luck, as the ag reporter, to distribute noxious weeds to gardeners throughout the region.
This brings us back to the question of when do we appreciate things more and less.
The unfurling of yellow flowers at dusk is likely a different experience for a farmer than it is for a kayak camper.