golden flowers & other great “jungle” finds
During our long holiday weekend,
we decided to take a family expedition into the “jungle”
(Marmalade’s name for the surrounding forests)
to explore the other 85% of our property,
a ravine that hasn’t been tended in generations.
And so, “jungle” seems quite accurate,
as we needed pruning shears simply to clear ourselves a walking path,
and still couldn’t get all the way through to the other side of our land.
We did find a tranquil hidden valley,
one valley past the one with a stream running through it,
so the third valley, counting from our home’s valley, uphill.
One the path home,
we found a few clusters of chanterelles,
including the largest chanterelle I’ve ever seen!
Through a slit in its cap,
a few rosettes of gills were pushing through,
looking very much like flower petals.
Otherwise, we’ve discovered that our “jungle” was really a cultivated valley,
as, aside from all the eucalyptus trees up on top of the first ridge,
it is filled with cork oaks, three giant pine nut trees, and dozens of madrone
(an understory tree with small prickly edible fruits usually distilled into a strong liquor).
With all of these special trees, it seems unlikely that this was a wild forest.
And walking through again a few days later,
it seems like a longterm goal to clear out the thorny vines
that are climbing up the madrone and cork oaks,
shading their leaves, preventing healthy growth,
and making the “jungle” nearly impassable.
We had to go on our most recent “jungle” journey
to try to unblock the water system (again),
so that canal water can flow into the pond.
The water had slowed over the past few days,
so that the pond wasn’t be replenished as quickly as it seeped out,
and although the frogs still seemed okay,
I was getting nervous about their low water levels.
When checking in on them in the early afternoon,
the tree-frogs were clinging to the cattails,
while several frogs were happily floating around.
And finally I was able to get a clear photo
of the (formerly elusive) striped frog.
As you can see, if has an asymmetrical lime green stripe on its back,
and although we knew it was somewhat striped,
we could never before make out its pattern
as it always dove in whenever we got near.
We’ve also discovered that we have two smaller striped frogs
that look related to the frog in the well from Rogil.
And a larger brownish frog with darker brown spots on its back.
And that the tree frogs are quite at home in our yard,
and won’t be limited to the pond,
as I found this one on an onion!
Speaking of elusive neighbors,
three properties uphill from us has an incredible collection of birds:
all kinds of rare chickens, all manner of ducks and geese,
and a pair of green (or Java green) peacocks
(okay, technically peafowl, as there is a peacock & a peahen).
We drive by their property twice almost daily,
(going & coming home, & usually only seeing chickens & geese)
and so far had only seen one or the other of the peafowl a handful of times,
and usually briefly, as they’ll bolt inside their shrubbery
when they noticed their being watched.
Once we were able to watch the peacock for awhile,
as it was strutting and sorta presenting itself the way peacocks do.
We’d never seen this type before and find its coloration absolutely stunning,
jaw-droppingly stunning. Wow.
(Our blurry photo, out our car window & through a fence,
can’t possibly do them justice, so here is a clearer image from the intersphere).
And further afield, about half way to the nearest market,
our Swiss friends have a very friendly donkey.
(They moved here to a really nice house on 11 hectares,
with a pond, gazebo, swimming pool, workshop, and stable,
with the resident donkeys included in the sale.)
Marmalade has been itching to ride a pony again
(ever since she first rode a few ponies during our visit last Spring to Bahrain)
and although the donkey won’t walk around with anyone on his back,
he’ll happily stand still while Marmalade happily sits on his back.
Fortunately, they have a four year old son, Sebastian,
who plays really well with Marmalade.
So I’m sure we’ll be seeing them a lot more over time.