April in San Diego brings Jacaranda trees in full bloom with lavender flowers. Entire neighborhoods in Pacific Beach & downtown San Diego are planted with Jacaranda trees. Everywhere I drive my eyes are dazzled by the lavender bouquets filling the sky. When the sky is overcast, the lavender flowers seem to be even denser in color. A purple haze created by nature. Underneath the Jacaranda trees, the ground is a lavender carpet. I daydream of laying down on the flower carpet, but when I walk up to the trees, the air is buzzing with bees greedily drinking the pollen from the flowers. The bees are on the ground, too so that they don’t miss the pollen from even one flower. It is a sort of bee madness of gorging on lavender blooms to feed their queen.
Another season has arrived of the Great Blue Herons building their nests at the tippy top of the 50 feet tall Torrey Pines trees along Mission Bay. I have spotted the Herons flying to the tree tops carrying branches that are incredibly long. These giant sticks used to build the heron’s nests are sometimes twice the length of the Great Blue Herons & they stand four feet tall! The nests have to be built of strong branches to safely hold Heron chicks. These nests are no tiny delicate hummingbird nests! It is easy to spot the Great Blue Herons as they stand at the top of the Torrey Pine trees & gaze across the bay. It is a thing of beauty when they launch themselves into flight with their 6-foot wingspan & fly above the bay. This is an ideal location for their nests because the Heron’s nests here are right next to the bay where they catch fish to feed their growing chicks. I delight in walking quietly around & under the pine trees. I know right where to look up for the Heron’s nests by the huge 8-foot spattering of bird guano on the ground underneath. After the chicks hatch sometimes the Great Blue Heron eggs can be seen on the ground. The eggs are a pale aqua-green & seem quite small to produce such a large bird. Great Blue Heron chicks show their prehistoric history with gigantic bills & gangly awkward movements as they quickly grow. When the Heron parent arrives with fish, the chicks call out with a loud “clacking & clicking” sound that is very distinct. As the chicks start to get feathers, the tops of their heads turn cobalt blue & it looks like they have fashionable mohawks! When the chicks are too large for their nest & stand on the branches, they can look back at me as I stand under the tree looking up at them. The chicks glare at me suspiciously as if I could be a predator. After the chicks fledge, they can be spotted standing on the branches of the tree for a while, but soon they will move on to live their lives until another breeding season begins.
On the weekends in April, the boat rentals in Mission Beach on Santa Clara point become even busier. Large sailboats decorated with pennant flags wait for someone to take them out for the day. Small single person sailboats can fulfill someone’s dream of being on the sea. Kayaks used for fishing are in high demand. The ocean is only a stone’s throw away, but sailing on the bay is a safe get-away & a place to dream of being on the sea without having to leave home. Sailing, walking or biking along the path around this part of the bay is quiet this time of the year. The bay-side beaches are empty & peaceful. The famous Mission Bay roller coaster built in 1925 out of wood can be seen in the distance. It is a beacon of the other side of the bay, which is on the ocean where the pace is faster & louder.
Even a bit of rain in San Diego this winter is still showing results. The Matilija poppies are blooming here & there. These poppies are hard to grow & the 7 foot tall plants are popping up where the seeds have self-sowed. Matilija poppies are also called fried egg poppies & it is easy to see why. The poppies are 8” across with bright yellow centers & white frilly flower petals, which make them look like fried eggs for a fairy tale. The poppy petals remind me of little girl’s pleated petticoats or a ballerina’s tutu. Even these flowers are filled with bees. I spot several bees on each flower. It is quite wonderful to know that the bees are still here doing their work of pollinating plants.
In Ocean Beach there is a cottage with a white-picket fence overflowing with orange & yellow Nasturtium flowers. This April makes me aware of the real impact that 10 years of drought has had on San Diego. I have missed the Nasturtiums blooming & didn’t even realize it until they returned. At the Cove in La Jolla the hills along Coast Walk are covered with the Nasturtium flowers, too. The happiness these bright blooms bring me with their perfectly round spring-green leaves makes me smile every time I see them.
In Pacific Beach the sand is still gone & the beach is mounded with winter cobblestones. There seem to be many sunsets with the green flash sparking a flash of lime green in the instant before the sun sinks. I sit on a bench & watch the gray whales migrate north now returning back to Alaska. Their whale blow spouts easily show when the ocean is calm. April in San Diego is a richness of the cycles of rebirth.