Cambrian: Slice of Life

Springtime spreads her colors for us to share, if only for a brief moment

Flowers cover the Temblor Range near Carrizo Plain off Highway 58 near Seven Mile Road in this March 26 photo.
Flowers cover the Temblor Range near Carrizo Plain off Highway 58 near Seven Mile Road in this March 26 photo.

Mother Nature’s springtime lighting on Cambria would make a perfect backdrop for a poignant movie (just cue the violins and the flute).

Moonlight dances across the meadow and tiptoes through our bedroom window to whisper, “Go back to sleep. Everything’s fine.”

Early-morning sunshine is a burst of pure happy, flowing like melted butter and warm maple syrup onto a piping-hot flapjack. When those sunbeams hit the treetops, the dark pines and oaks gradually take on a golden hue, almost as if they were lit from within.

Then, as the light slowly slides down to the incandescently bright, almost-need-your-sunglasses-to-look-at-it green of the hillsides … well, it’s just springtime magic, that’s all.

This has been a season of Irish green and school-bus yellow on the Central Coast, with big clusters of daffodils, perky oxalis frosting the emerald hills and fields and vast swaths of mustard bloom as tall as I am (I know I’m short, but that’s tall for weed!). Our meadow, with its tasty golden calendula field flowers, draws lots of critters. On one recent morning, 10 deer of various sizes were munching away there for about an hour!

Even the much-reviled Scotch broom reminds us that yes, it really is spring.

Having all that natural gilt at once makes it seem as if Mother Nature is mourning in advance the upcoming retirement of Crayola’s dandelion yellow crayon. (Alas, poor Dandelion, we knew him well. Maybe he’ll just go through a witness protection program and come back with another identity.)

Mama Nature’s wildflower crayon box has other colors in it, of course, all splashed across acres of golden hills and valleys. Many sites are vividly accented by sizeable patches of purple-blue lupine, orange poppies and other shades of the season.

This spring, having those lavish wildflower “superblooms” all over the place has been a recipe for pure-gold joy … tarnished slightly by traffic jams in places that don’t usually have much traffic, let alone jams.

Shell Creek Road. The Carrizo. Santa Rosa Creek Road (which is a rough ride this year). San Simeon Creek Road. Numerous wide-open stretches of highways, side roads and byways.

There’s a real sense of urgency. People didn’t want to miss out. “Gotta hurry. Gotta rush. The wildflowers won’t last long, and we have to scurry to get the best view, the best picture, the most innovative selfie before the blossoms fade.”

Some selfish folks take their sense of entitlement way too far. “Fences? Private property? Tromping on the flowers? Blocking somebody else’s view? Sorry, don’t have time to worry about that.”

How rude!

I suspect some parents may have even encouraged their children to pick the flowers and hold them up for a photo op. Never mind that they’re not supposed to pick the blooms — the California Penal Code Section 384, according to, rules that “it’s a misdemeanor to cut or remove any plant growing on state or county highways or public lands, except by authorized government employees and contractors; it is also against the law to remove plants on private property without the permission of the owner.”

Even wildflower-trained organizers of Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve must get a permit to pick flowers on state property for their annual wildflower show fundraiser, which will fill the Veterans Memorial Building on Saturday and Sunday, April 29 and 30.

I recognize that Mother Nature’s blaze of spring wildflowers is short lived, spectacular and absolutely worth seeing. But when the inconsiderateness, discourtesy and even insolence that’s so prevalent in our lives, our politics and our world today shows up in the wild, it seems especially offensive.

We should slow down and respect the experiences that we all want to have, and to which we are entitled when we go into the fields, the forest, the shore, the mountains.

We seek peace, calm, quiet, spirituality, joy, rare visions of beauty … all wrapped with appreciation of and thoughtfulness for the area and each other.

Share, people, share.

Spring and Mother Nature’s flowers — like life — will fade all too soon. But if we play nicely together and are respectful of where we are and everybody else who’s there with us, the memories we all create will last much longer than any wildflower, any fleeting spring light or any selfie.