Eucalyptus Trees in California…

In early June we spent 8 days in Petaluma living above a horse barn on acreage that overlooked valleys, hills

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and a vastness that reminded me of Footlights and gifted us with stunning sunsets every evening,

I walked.

Because our barn loft was half way up the mountain, when I turned left onto the tarmac from the dirt road I ascended first and came down quite steeply.

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 When I turned right I descended first and labored upwards to get home.

“Take lots of breaks to stop and admire the view,” Diane our host suggested.  I did!

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It was a patchwork of yellow and green fields showing off their quilting skills.

I passed a few homes with vineyards, it was Sonoma Valley after all,

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I saw indescribably color co-ordinated wild flowers that reminded me of a consiliatory comment someone once made about my matching shoes and shirt,

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nature doesn’t have any rules she just clothes her flowers in gossamer.

Around a corner was a sleepy, green meadow of ferns carpeting an overhung valley fed by an underground stream.  It was at once so beautiful and eerie I became spooked and had to turn back nervous about what would come next.

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Another day high up at the top of the mountain I saw a stand of Llamas silhouetted against a blue backdrop on the horizon, looking like Indians ready to charge.

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I saw goats, black & white dairy cows

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and a random zebra…

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I heard hawks screeching above and wild turkeys gobbling as they ran across the grasses, roosters crowing and little birds (I hoped) scurrying through the undergrowth.

And trees, solitary ones clinging bravely to the side of a hill,

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and great stands of lofty trees, with grey bark that peeled back to uncover yellow under garments, soft to the touch and fragrant to the nose.

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I loved the gnarliness of these trees and stopped several times to look closely at them as I walked along the road.  They reminded me of the Bois d’arc at Footlights with the ability to grow shoots from stumps and tangle upwards into a resilient hard wood.

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“What are those trees lining the side of the road?” I asked Diane later.

“Eucalyptus,” she said.

I thought Eucalyptus were indigenous to Australia and whimsically imagined koalas lurking in the leafy  branches.  As if reading my mind Diane added,

“They were brought here from Australia years ago because they were a fast growing hard wood.

“Millions were planted in the hopes of being used for the building of houses, or railways,” she continued,   “but it was discovered that although they did grow fast they were the wrong sort of eucalyptus!”

The giant trees of Australia were 100′s of years old when they were first harvested for their steely wood, these weren’t!

An innocent and expensive mistake a hundred years ago is now a major feature of California’s tree life.

I for one loved their appearance, their limbs and branches packed full of personality…

…if not koalas!

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