Ambling in Ojai
Over the holiday weekend, my gentleman friend and I took some lovely dayhikes (ambles, really) in the beautiful Ojai Valley (Ojai, California).
We take these hikes for two reasons. One is for the sheer enjoyment of the beautiful weather, varied landscape, and physical recreation that California offers. Hey, we pay ridiculously high property taxes for the privilege of living here. We’re determined to get our money’s worth!
The other reason is to give me reference material for my neo-Pointillist landscape paintings. I keep my digital camera in my back pocket on our hikes, and I’m constantly whipping it out and snapping a few shots. I take lots and lots of photos, the vast majority of which are useless. Fortunately, a select few turn out to be useful, enabling the creation of future paintings.
So last weekend we ambled about in the Ojai Meadow Preserve. The walking was very easy, except for a couple of deep ditches we felt we needed to cross (bridges or steps would have been nice). But other than that, the path was quite easy to follow and mostly very level, and the views of grassy meadows and stands of eucalyptus trees and oaks (non-native and native, respectively) were outstanding.
We encountered some wildlife. I wasn’t fast enough on the trigger to photo the jaw-dropping aerobatics of a brilliant iridescent-blue mountain bluebird because I was so busy being amazed. They hover! Like a hummingbird, but bigger! The bird swooped over the grassy field, then hovered in a single spot a few feet over the grass. With each wingbeat, the bird’s body shifted forward and back slightly, but its head stayed perfectly still. The sun flashed on its blue feathers and the spectacle was simply incredible. As if that weren’t enough, it did it a couple of times right in front of us. I guess to make sure we really got an eyeful.
I did manage to snap this shot of a California king snake just as it started to slither down its hole. I spotted the snake from only a few feet away, and barely stopped before I stepped on it. It was lying perfectly still and straight, about 30 inches long or so. In spite of its stripes it was surprisingly well camouflaged. We watched it for a few minutes to see what it would do but it stayed perfectly still, just occasionally flicking its tongue out. I finally decided to take its picture, and at that moment it casually started down a tiny hole that didn’t look big enough to hold it. We watched it disappear completely into the hole.
I highly recommend checking out the Ojai Meadow Preserve if you find yourself in Ojai and in need of some quiet ambling time.