Bring on the flowers!

Because it’s never too early to start dreaming about spring

 The forecast for tomorrow predicts rain. And then a lot more wind and rain in the next few weeks. It’s the perfect time to cozy up by a fire and watch the raging weather from indoors, underneath your favorite blanket. Of course, if you brave the elements and venture outside, Mendocino’s storm-swept cliffs and sea are utterly amazing at this time of year. They will seriously take your breath away. And yet… as we stoke the giant fireplace in our Great Room and watch the drama of winter storms unfolding outside our floor-to-ceiling windows, we find ourselves daydreaming of longer days, of spring, of wildflowers.

 You see, after all this glorious winter rain falls, and the plants have soaked up their optimal level of moisture, there is an explosion of colors along our many paths and trails. It may not be as much of a display as in Hawaii or some such tropical clime, but for those who enjoy the simple beauties in life, there are many joyful little wildflowers that brighten the Mendocino parks. …and we can’t get them out of our heads.

 We can’t wait to trek along the coastal trails that, having a greater degree of sunshine, boast a higher number of wildflowers, including sea pink, poppies, wild radish, blue-eyed grass, and even the neatest little succulents! Some of our favorite paths for searching out these kinds of wildflowers include MacKerricher State Park, the Coastal Trail in Fort Bragg, Point Cabrillo Light Station, and Spring Ranch.

 Of course, we can’t miss out on a lovely meander through the inland trails like Russian Gulch, Van Damme, Hendy Woods, and Jughandle. Because these parks are full of towering redwood, and thus have much less sunlight than their coastal counterparts, the flowers tend to be smaller and more delicate, which makes finding them more like an exciting treasure hunt. Columbine, trillium, red clintonia, and other little jewels peak out from behind mossy old stumps and gently wave their heads between vigorous blackberry brambles.

 And if the wildflowers aren’t enough, there’s also the Botanical Gardens! We make a spring time pilgrimage to this horticultural haven every year to indulge our obsession with flowers. We wander through all 42 acres of the garden complex, oohing and aahing over each little blossom and bud, and at least once during our visit we have to find our favorite bench and just sit there, filling our lungs with the scent of sun-warmed earth and new life.

 We know we’ve got a couple of months to go before we get to delight in the bounty of springtime flowers. We know that winter in Mendocino has its own host of charms, and we are most definitely going to enjoy all of them. Yet still, we can’t help but daydream about those cheerful little flowers that are going to greet us on our vernal walks, so bright and merry. The very thought of them seems to brighten the lowering gray of tomorrow’s rain clouds…

Written by Laura Hockett

Outdoors, HikingLaura Hockett