Wow! I’ve just come back from a hike at Las Trampas Regional Preserve. I’ve been there quite a few times before, but still … wow! It’s early March, and no matter how much I truly love all the seasons in the Bay Area, there’s nothing like that first blue-sky hike of spring. When the grass is so green it vibrates. When the rain-washed sky is a blue so deep it aches. When the colors of the red maids and goldfields by the side of the trail are so intense you can only smile. When the hillsides are so soft you want to caress them over and over with your eyes.
I walk into a small chapparal canyon and am greeted by the sweet delicate, fragrance of profusely blooming buckbrush. When I stop to put my nose up to the soft clumps of small, white flowers, I realize that the air is alive with bird songs—titmouse and wrentit and several others I don’t even recognize. There is such an abundance of life to take in, it’s almost overwhelming. I know, I know, it’s only a hint of the wildness and beauty that was here before; but still, what a blessing it is.
How does this magazine, BAY NATURE, fit in with such blissful moments? It’s only human to want to share an experience of beauty with others, so we’ll indulge in a bit of that. And it certainly enhances our outdoor explorations if we understand the patterns of vegetation on the landscape, the layers of rock underneath it, and the life cycles of the animals that move across it. So we’ll talk a lot about such things. And it’s enlightening to learn how human societies before us saw and lived on this land. So we’ll visit there as well.
But these aren’t goals in themselves. They are steps down a path toward understanding how we can live in this corner of the planet without obliterating it. Even though Bay Area citizens have done a relatively decent job of setting aside some beautiful spots for recreation and preservation, we haven’t come close to reversing our seemingly heedless march toward extinction of the wild. By carefully observing the natural world around us, BAY NATURE hopes to be a part—a reflection and amplification, really—of a truly vibrant and dynamic coalescence of people taking action: from studying the distribution of lichen to arranging conservation easements on ranches, from daylighting urban creeks to formulating alternative transit policies. I think it all starts with fiercely loving the natural world around us.
This issue will come out in April. Soon enough, the grasses will turn brown, and the fog will roll in. Before that happens, glance through these pages for some inspiration and then journey out into the hills; find your own signs of Bay Area spring and hang them in your mind’s eye for occasional bouts of pleasure.
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Veteran environmental activist, writer, editor, publisher, educator, and coastal wetlands scientist Phyllis Faber has made countless contributions to the Bay Area environmental movement.