Have you heard of vernal pools? Up until this year, I haven't either. I was watching California's Gold by the late great Huell Howser on PBS, when I heard of it. They were having a marathon showing in honor of his passing.
That was when I saw the episode on vernal pools. It's very interesting. For more information, wiki has something on this subject, of course. Click here.
After seeing the show, we immediately knew we wanted to see the pools. The fact that the pools are in Sacramento, less than 100 miles away, made the decision easy. We went online to search for SPLASH and signed up for the free tour(click on the link and you'll learn more about their programs and about the vernal pools). It was educational and free. What more could one ask?
Vernal pools have three phases: wet, flowering, and dry. We were signed up for the last tour on the last date they were open for tours for the year. It was during the flowering phase.
From the Splash website:
WET: In winter, vernal pools swarm with aquatic life, most smaller than a freckle. Frogs and toads come to mate and lay eggs. From November through March, species race against the clock (and their predators) to grow up, mate and lay eggs before the pools dry up.
Many vernal pool seeds sprout in November with the first winter rains. The seedlings remain less than two inches tall throughout the winter as the pools fill with water, submerging them for weeks or months.
FLOWERING: As the pools dry down in March, the seedlings grow, springing into bloom during April and early May. Most grow to less than six inches high. Vernal pool flowers create colorful rings, patches and ribbons of yellow, white, pink and purple.
The displays change from week to week, as each species gives way to the next, like a floral kaleidoscope.
DRY: During the hot, dry summer months, vernal pools lie brown and barren among the grasslands. Birds, mammals and insects come to the pools to feed on the seeds and bulbs of vernal pool plants. While they are there, other species feed on them.
The sun-baked bottoms of the vernal pools hold the eggs, cysts and seeds that will give life to the next generation. The winter rain awakens them, restarting the cycle each year.
THE VERNAL POOLS DURING THE FLOWERING PHASE:
Talk about wildflowers delight. Apparently every pool has a distinctive flora; we saw wildflowers that only appear on one pool and not the others, even though the pools were in the same field. Our guide was the director and founder of the program.
The director called us warriors, because the day turned out to be HOT (which btw is the norm in Sacramento). The tour started at 1:30 PM, the temp was 100 F, and we were out in the field on a hot day, but we had a lot of fun learning about our environment.
THE WILDFLOWERS, etc.
In the spirit of being very through, I went down on all fours just to get my shot.
MY WORLD TUESDAY.