I confess to the bit of envy I feel when seeing my friends post photos to Facebook from a trip to Morocco, a twinge of wanderlust to be in a new land, sampling exotic spices and hearing the melody of a language that doesn’t roll off my tongue. Those are the times I find it most important to remember that adventure awaits outside the front door, a short walk to the pond or a 20 minute drive to put the canoe in at Solano Lake.
Really, it’s just a section of Putah Creek. But it’s full of wildlife–beaver, otter, raccoon, egrets, great blue heron, bullfrogs, osprey, woodpecker, kingfisher, Canada geese, buffleheads, cormorants, turkey vultures, red-shouldered hawks, red-winged blackbirds, three-spined stickleback that my son loves to scoop up in a net while drifting in the canoe. I’m sure this is only scratching the surface of the species out there.
But it’s our little slice of heaven that we explore in every season.
Deep in the summer months, we stain fingers purple with blackberry juice in our quest to gather enough for a cobbler.
Those are the days we head west toward Winters in late afternoon and stop at the El Verduzco taco truck parked at the Mariani Nut Company. After eating an assortment of carnitas, asada and adobada tacos, we hit the road to drive another few miles along Putah Creek Road till we find the extra wide pullouts where you can park your car to unload a canoe or kayak.
Once on the water, you never know what you’ll see! Here are some images from the past couple of trips–enjoy!
For many years, tradition had it that our family would load up the canoe on my birthday and head up to Lake Natomas, near Folsom, for a day on the water. We brought plastic buckets and other containers to pick blackberries from branches overhanging the canoe. My dad always joked that for every berry that made it into my bucket, I must be eating two. By the end of the day, I had purple lips and teeth. We’d often make homemade vanilla ice cream out on the back porch after getting home and a blackberry cobbler with luscious crunchy crumbles on top.
This year J made sure we were back on the water for my birthday–a sojourn out to Putah Creek up near the Berryessa hills. Thanks babe!
Up before dawn, we picked up Peet’s coffee and a bag of Noah’s bagels and hit the road. Exploring north for a photo project, following instinct and a hunch. Dense fog along the Sacramento River, farmlands and orchards. Winter’s chill giving way to sun in the afternoon. Knights Landing, Colusa, Robbins, Rumsey, Guinda—towns with quiet Sunday mornings.
Homesteader cemeteries—babies dead before they could walk, sons lost in the two world wars, wives gone in childbirth. A few headstones of those who lived long enough to witness horse-drawn wagons give way to Fords, to hold grandchildren on their knees and pass along a farmer’s hunch of what to expect come spring.
A sprawling farmhouse off a levee road, fallow fields to the north and hundreds of rose bushes carefully planted to the south. Nobody left to roll marbles across the warped wood floors. A foreclosure sign tacked to a Mediterranean blue front door. Orange trees lining the drive dropping fruit to rot and mold on the damp ground. The stories these walls must hold, lives begun and ended, hopes and dreams born and dashed.
Past walnut orchards, old bridges and fields. Geese honking through the fog, egrets perched on the levee’s edge. Putah creek, Cache Creek, Sacramento river, the base of Sutter Buttes, the ridges of the coastal range. Driving till dusk, our eyes full of this land of plenty.