Russian Ridge is much like other patches of chaparral in Northern California in that when summer rolls around, the gentle hillsides dry and turn bright gold. The sight of it feels like something out of an afterlife – pure paradise. The reality, however, is not so kind. The grass is nearly knee high, and not soft at all. The spikelets have spent the last 10,000 years evolving into perfect jean-penetrating, ankle-scraping machines. And sometimes, they also hide lustful ticks hoping for a free ride.

But under this precious California Buckeye tree, the friendly grass of spring had lingered longer. Once I got under, the way the soft blades caressed my raw ankles the way a welcomed change. The shade this tree offered from the piercing summer sun was another welcomed respite , and the flora seemed to agree. Look closely and you may even find a few wildflowers persisting way past their due.

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Daily Prompt (11/5): Aesculus californica or Toxicity

The California Buckeye’s fruit hosts a toxin within it that is so powerful it can stun fish and kill bees. Native Americans often used the fruit as tools to help them fish, and used its toxicity to their benefit.

Consider the toxic ways of human interaction. What role do you feel toxicity, whether literal or metaphorical, plays in your life? Is it ever appropriate to use our anger, pain, or fear in a protective manner? What risks do we run using our toxicity to our own benefit? Or is it better to analyze instead how we can push out all the negativity of our souls, and instead focus on gentility of self?

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