Southern California is a place of slow and subtle shifts. Traffic moves slowly and the differences of our seasons can sometimes be hard to discern, especially for people from non-Mediterranean climates.
I’ve spent all my life here and can tell the different seasons by a number of different clues. I can see the how the light differs on a clear summer day and a clear day in winter. I can also smell the seasons, especially the spring & summer. As winter glides into spring I started to think about another seasonal clue.
We have no fewer than twenty different varieties of Oaks in California. Even in our vast urban and suburban sprawl, Oaks are common and for the most part venerated. We even like naming communities after them like Sherman Oaks, Thousand Oaks, Oak Park, Oak Hill and of course, Oakland.
The Santa Monica Mountains is home to scores of oaks and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy does a marvelous job of preserving the hills and valleys where the oaks thrive, often times surrounded by upscale housing developments.
I thought it would be fun to capture the transition of some of our oaks from winter to spring, from cold to warm, from brown to green.
Allow me to start with a short poem.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.
– Robert Frost / 1923