The Cactus Patch
Volume 13       September 2010      Number 09

A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

Recently the book To Kill a Mockingbird celebrated its 50th anniversary. (The film came out two years later.)While still moving, one can argue it is about a past no longer relevant. More recent events are portrayed in the book Freedom Summer, Bruce Watson, 2010, Viking Press, N.Y. It discusses the summer of 1964. It is very biased, however, and makes it look as if the whole show in Mississippi was run by SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee).  It barely mentions CORE (Congress of Racial Equality), NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference). My brother Robert ran a Freedom school in Mississippi that summer under CORE.  (Polly and I worked for CORE in Bakersfield.) At least the book had some positive aspects, unlike the film Mississippi Burning which was very negative. For a different story see Letters from Mississippi, Elizabeth Sutherland ed., 1965, McGraw-Hill, N.Y. Robert contributed to it.

But on to the present; Lora and her daughter Angela left for Kwajalein on 15th July. Anne took over their pets and plants. Polly and I added more plants to her care when we left on the 23rd for Sacramento. Michael and parents came down from their mountain home, John returned from kayaking and scuba diving off of Anacapa, and Karen and Marvin (with their granddaughter Aubrey) returned from Lassen Volcanic National Park. We met briefly at Aubrey’s parents’ home (my niece Debby and her husband Nick).

Next morning Polly went to get a pattern from JoAnne’s. Just across the road was the Capital Nursery so I stopped in and bought a plant of Echeveria subrigida, a large-leaved species. I then realized we were next to the Sunrise Mall, so we phoned relatives and got together for lunch at Red Robin followed by the movie How to Tame Your Dragon.

That evening we had a BBQ and swim back at Aubrey’s. Next morning Michael took his parents back up the mountain and we met with John to see pictures of his delayed trip to Anacapa.  He has some excellent shots of the bright orange Garibaldi, California’s state fish.  He also managed some great jellyfish pictures.  We then met relatives for lunch at the Home Town Buffet and then went with John to the Aerospace Museum.  They had a terrific display from Star Trek.  Up close the weapons and tools look crude, but this doesn’t show on the screen.  John insisted on suffering a ride which simulated a galactic attack. Yikes! We finished the day with a concert in the park at Carmichael.  Todd Morgan and the Emblems entertained us with music from the 50’s and 60’s. The audience was mostly old and young, very few in between.

Next morning Polly and I set off up the Feather River Canyon.  We stopped at Yankee Hill and collected lots of Serpentine, which, at least for now, is the state rock.  We reached Greenville where Michael lives just before noon and were bawled out for being ten minutes early!  That evening we joined a community supper at the Methodist Church.

On the 27th we had breakfast at Sierra Sunrise.  We then tried to reach the Round Valley Reservoir, but James’ van died at the edge of town. We phoned triple A and Polly, Emily and Michael (on his bike) went home and got the car. We finally got to the reservoir and hiked a bit (with Michael on his bike).  There were lots of saprophytes (plants which grow on dead leaves etc.) under the pines.  They are known as Pine Drops.  Some were almost as tall as Michael.  Back in town we saw a house with a blooming prickly pear.  The sign said Hargraves (no relative, as far as we know).

On the 28th we drove up to Chester and had lunch at the Beacon.  We then drove up a back road into a part of Lassen Park which was new to me (but Karen and Marvin had just been there).  We looked at Drakesbad, a resort with a pool fed by hot springs, horses for rent and a beautiful meadow full of corn lilies.  A mar mot was sitting on a rock, but James scared him off shouting for Michael before I could get a picture.  I settled for a good shot of a golden mantled ground squirrel eating lunch.  I then quietly got Michael, but the ground squirrel was gone.  A marmot then appeared and confused Michael.  I was explaining to James how the ground squirrel differs from a chipmunk when both appeared followed by a regular squirrel!

Next we hiked a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail.  (From Drakesbad it is almost equidistant to Canada and Mexico.) We only went as far as a hot springs lake which had bubbling mud and sulfurous fumes.  Michael remembered that the water is hot because the mountain is a volcano.  He also noted the egg-like smell once again.  A party on horseback passed us and we saw a couple of spotted fawns.  The wild flowers were in full bloom, including Tiger lilies and a Mariposa lily. We returned to Chester and had dinner at the Happy Garden, a Chinese Restaurant.

Next day we drove to Portola and visited the train museum there. They do a lot of restoration for other train museums.  A mature deer ducked under a train car while we were there.  Then we went to a park where they were serving free burgers and watermelon. They had games and Michael won a grass skirt. On the 30th Polly and I went back to Sacramento, this time via Deer Creek to Chico.  That evening John invited us to go to the State Fair, but we declined.

On the 31st John showed us his fair pictures, a much more relaxing way to see it.  He had some good shots of dinosaurs and whirling rides. We then had lunch at the Firebird, a Russian Buffet Restaurant. We then drove back to Bakersfield.

On the 5th we drove up to Fresno and helped Polly’s sister Martha set up a yard sale.  She actually cleaned out enough to let us stay with her for a change.  That evening we went to the Cactus and Succulent meeting and heard Nick on Cedros Island in Baja.  He showed more bonsai’d elephant trees as well as endemic Dudleyas. He showed one lone cardon. For some reason the others died.

When we returned, we found a postcard from Palau.  Lora and Angela had gone there for the Micronesian Games.  Angela got a silver in swimming!  They also got to swim among the jellyfish for which Palau is famous.  They are now back in Bakersfield.

On the 10th, of course, we joined the Bakersfield Club for the annual dinner at Cactus Valley.  Maynard had a letter in the paper regarding the silly move to change the state rock (some have asbestos).  I brought a piece for him, but he wasn’t there.  Later, Sidney had a letter in the paper (which she said she wrote first!).  I guess I’ll give her a rock too (though there are already some at her place).

On the 14th six of us went to the tri-city show and sale at the LA Arboretum.  This was their 25th anniversary, and they had T-shirts from previous years hanging around in the show.  They had some plants with Outstanding ribbons.  Nick got one for his bombax.  Among the sale plants I noted a Pachira tree for $12. Since Vons has Pachira aquatica for $8, I waited to buy one until we returned.  This tree is from central America (although the store label says SE Asia!) and is in the same family as baobabs and bombax.

Did you see the empty water tanks on the front page of the Californian?  Robert says that’s his water supply!  Fortunately they have enough water for the house, but he’s afraid he might lose some trees.


Prints by Polly

Michael with Snowdrops

Bruce @ Tri-City Show

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