On Sunday, D. and I went to the Esther Clark Nature Preserve in Palo Alto. Esther Clark Nature Preserve is a 21-acre undeveloped nature reserve of grassland and oaks. It is named for Dr. Esther Clark, one of the founding members of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic. In 1965 Dr. Clark sold the land to the city of Palo Alto, on the condition that it be preserved as open space. There are no amenities whatsoever on site, no restrooms, no drinking water, no hiking trails, no picnic tables -- nothing but grass, flowers and trees. We had the place all to ourselves.
The afternoon was the first sunny and mild weekend day we'd had in a long time, and it was heavenly to get out to a quiet, peaceful, natural place and take some pics. Here's some of mine:
The grassy meadow stretches uphill from the road.
We find a deer path leading in.
The path is very watery in many places, from recent rains.
A lizard suns itself on a boulder along the bank of the east fork of Barron Creek, which forms the western boundary of the preserve.
We glimpse the frst of many ancient almond trees in the preserve, remnants of the days when fruit orchards covered the valley.
A close-up of an almond blossom.
A branch in bloom.
The limbs of these old trees are encrusted with lichens.
The meadow is lush and green.
Non-native mustardweed is in full bloom.
Another invasive non-native, oxalis pokes its golden trumpets up through the grass.
Another blossoming almond branch.
Along the preserve's eastern boundary, a patch of prickly pear cactus thrives just on the other side of someone's fence.
The afternoon sun makes abstract shadows among the cactus.
The hill in the far center of the pic is the eastern edge of Stanford University's Dish Loop.
One of the few mushrooms poking its head above the grasses.
Here's one of a few cherry trees in the preserve, whose blossoms are sweetly fragrant.
Along the east fork of Barron Creek, arroyo willow catkins are popping into bloom.
One last look at a sky full of almond blossoms before we head back home.
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Here's some of D.'s pics.
The path is quite muddy, causing us to tread in the grass alongside.
Some of the almond trees in the meadow.
A wild almond tree in full bloom, with someone's private cultivated almond orchard (and vineyard) in the background.
Bright almond blossoms against a blue sky.
More mustardweed along the path.
The Dish Loop's "Eiffel Tower" antenna can be made out on the hilltop in this view.
Beautiful cherry blossoms.