This morning Bernie and I took the dogs for a walk down on the levee road by the river.
Elderberries are blossoming, and when I saw this cluster peeking into the sunshine from the shade, I couldn't resist snapping a few pictures of it. It's not the most colorful plant in the world, but perfection of this bloom serves to accent the surprising lights and shadows of the morning sun.
The riparian habitat is loaded with elderberries along with the blackberry thickets and cottonwood trees. I know that elderberry extract is supposed to be good for boosting the immune system, but I don't know how to process the berries. Maybe this year I'll figure that out.
Howie and Sebastian enjoyed the outing, although Sebastian still thinks it's all about chasing Howie and trying to herd him. Still, he's starting to follow Howie and sniff what Howie thinks is interesting, though he plainly does not understand why Howie feels compelled to mark every tree and grass clump.
Speaking of marking, some hog left a plastic soft drink cup (one of those quart-sized abominations) lying on the dirt road. Either a coyote or a raccoon took the time to take a big shit on it. I was truly impressed.
A bird was chirping alarms and hopping from branch to branch, but we couldn't see what it was. I started snapping pictures up into the branches of a cottonwood tree, in hopes of being able to pick out the bird in the photos later. The sky was bright with high haze, and the photos looked like black silhouettes on white until I used Photoshop and lightened the whole picture.
Presto, a rufous-sided towhee was revealed. Later on, I had a clear shot of a towhee in full sun, out in the open, but do you think I could get my camera out of the belt pouch in time? Hell, no. Bernie helpfully told me that REAL photographers NEVER put their cameras down.
I missed a great shot of a hummingbird later on, the same stupid way. @!!##!!
Along with the box elder trees, the water willows, and the nettles, there are stands of wild roses. They're plain little flowers, but the huge rose hips they set keep the riparian animals munching all winter and spring until the wild grapes (the larger leaves in the photo) ripen.
Babe used to love to poke around in the hedges along the levee for ripe grapes. I have heard that grapes are dangerous for dogs, but Babe didn't care, and neither do the coyotes.
Our walk was about two hours long, and it really was wonderful. We even found the local kids' favorite river spot, and spent some time there watching the Stanislaus River flow by.
Life can be good.