Clintonia, interrupted

I was out on my first Spring ride, and I opted for Less Traffic, More Climbing. Thus, out the door and up into the MMWD lands beyond the golf course called Meadow Club. I can really tell I’m slowing down (people overtaking me, instead of vice-versa) but on this day I was resolved that I would simply enjoy the 9 mph pace, instead of cringing. I really really want to be Bhudda-minded, but it’s really hard, when you’ve gone 35 years trying to be fast and first.

My goal was to find the doughty Clintonia andrewsiana clinging to the cliff at the intersection of Bo-Fax and Ridgecrest blvd. I found it, but was chagrined to see that the fat green leaves had no central stalk, instead, the stalk lay down flat, broken at the base, and the flower head itself broken from that. I carefully gathered up the flower head, placed it in my musette, and rode off, hoping I wouldn’t macerate the poor thing over the next 18 miles of my slow but sure ascent of the mountain.

I soon noticed a car coming up behind, and saw the window go dow as the driver ducked his head to address me.

” That’s an endangered plant” he said. It was without malice, and the fellow had a kind face. A small kiddo waved an arm from the kid-holder in the back. Risking everything on that slippery potholed and shade dappled road, II turned to face him while continuing to pedal (I reallyhave to stop thinking everytjhing’s smooth in front of me, even on a paved road. I’m too old to tumble and bounce)

I tried to assure him that I’d only pocketed it because it was already broken off, and that I knew it was a Clintonia. He was mollified, and I gave him my name, and asked for his card, so I could thank him properly (with a boastcard)…he had a fine stack, the kind of card stock ones with a different picture on each. I shoved it into my tights and promised myself not to moon anyone for the rest of the ride.

He is a landscape architect, and obviously passionate about natives…if he lets me, I’ll mention him by name, but since this blog goes out to 34 people around the world, I want to be sure he’s OK with fame, etc…
The Scottish bard came to mind

To a Clintonlia

On finding a broke-necked flower on the steep verge of Bolinas Ridge, above the Alpine Dam

Green smooth-paddled leaves

circle round

the fine sleek stem that’s gone to ground

Thou hadna strengh the breeze to bear

And Thursday’s storm bent your knees.

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion

has whipped up winds that topple trees.

Your yearly crown was thusly pinion’d

for our cars and cares come first

while Earth must wait

The best laid schemes thus gang agley.


~ by jacquiephelan on April 16, 2022.

3 Responses to “Clintonia, interrupted”

  1. Beautiful precious native flower!
    So appreciate the wise woman on a bicycle description…..
    The world is easier to observe and truly see when we slow down…

  2. I’ve been trying to get in touch with you about someone you wrote about. My cousin Tamika. You met in Vallejo and wrote about her. Please get in touch me.

  3. This slowing down is so often the result of noticing all the hundreds of natural attractions that we wantonly raced right by all those years ago. My rides nowadays result in dozens of stops along the way to take a closer look at birds, flowers, trees, creeks, rocks and more. A 20-mile loop can take 4 hours sometimes.

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