Near here is a little road that leads along the top of the levee on the Stanislaus River.
It runs in back of a golf course, bounded on one side by evergreens and grape vines, and on the other by bamboo and cottonwood, box elder and blackberry thickets, wild roses and elderberry bushes. It's a wonderful habitat for quail and coyote and rabbit and raccoon.
When we walk along that path, we take along binoculars so that we can check out the birds we see in the trees. We have lately been keeping an eye on the ground, too, as it's the season for snakes to be chilly and want to lie in the middle of the dirt road to get warmed up by the sun.
And so attuned, we found three very interesting things on the ground: First, a half a robin's egg, whose color I had not seen in more than 20 years (it smushed when Lillian exuberantly tried to pick it up), then a pink egg lying in the middle of the road, cold and abandoned. (Even the dogs didn't notice it as they ran by!) I have no idea what kind of bird lays a pink egg; it's smaller than a robin's egg, so presumably the bird is smaller than a robin.
The pink egg was the chiefest treasure, but I was also very pleased to find a set of cottonwood kernels just starting to pop open. There were no cottonwoods where I grew up, and reading about them in Farley Mowat's "Owls in the Family" made me long for the Canadian plains and the sight of such an exotic tree.
Now I have them nearby, and can report that although their "cotton" is probably largely responsible for my spring sneezing, the sound of the wind in their leaves is as beautiful -- and very similar to -- the crash and pour of breakers along a beach.