Monday, March 19 , 2018, 9:10 pm | Overcast 56º


Captain’s Log: Coastal Hills Alive With Flowers’ Colors

Seen from the ocean or enjoyed while standing knee-deep in their spectacular beauty, spring wildflowers never fail to thrill even longtime residents

I never tire of the stunning views of Santa Barbara and neighboring communities from offshore. It is a joy to soak in the sights, smile and then whistle my favorite tune (the music to the Old Spice commercial). At this time of year the views are the best, thanks to wildflowers.

Capt. David Bacon
Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)

Along the coastal slopes and fields, sprawling spreading swaths of yellow mustard seed blossoms turn whole hillsides bright yellow. From the offshore perspective, the sunny yellow hillsides look like a fanciful frame for our picturesque city, which sits like a proud jewel on a beautiful coast.

In our near-coast valleys, we get large gorgeous flowers of various sizes, growing in large patches. Springtime winds dry them out quickly, though, so it is necessary to go see them soon.

Further inland, in arid regions such as the badlands and the desert, flowers are diminutive but just as beautiful. I can recall standing in one place in the badlands north of Cuyama for a long moment, before realizing I was in the middle of a patch of miniature flowering plants. Each blossom was considerably smaller in diameter than a dime, and just as flat. The arid regions can’t support the larger, more robust species we have along the coast. The arid region wildflowers are just as pretty, but in a miniature and considerably more water-efficient form.

On a whim, I have packed the family in the car and headed over the San Marcos Pass, or up toward Lompoc, to spot some fresh new flowers. On other days, we have traveled out to the Cuyama Badlands or the Mojave Desert to find even more precious species of flowers. Plan a wildflower trip to see what nice things rain does to our land, and to admire the myriad species and qualities of the wildflowers of Southern California. You’ll be glad you did. Your knowledge might be enhanced by first stopping by the library to check out a book on local wildflowers.

It isn’t necessary to make a long drive to go see wildflowers, however, because they can be found in our own backyard, where they often get cussed as weeds. We find them in our neighborhood creek beds, meadows, open fields, parks, nearby hills and mountains.

I can appreciate a pretty wildflower without studying it, naming it, or even caring if it is indigenous or exotic. Others study to the point that they can rattle off the names of every wildflower in a bulging hand-picked bouquet. Choose your own level of interest.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.

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