The Giving Tree – California Buckeye at Sunset

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My favorite specimen of California Buckeye lights up brilliant at sunset, in Russian Ridge Open Space.

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 lingered longer. Under the tree, the way the soft blades caressed my raw ankles was a welcomed change. I also greatly appreciated the shade this tree offered from the piercing summer sun, 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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