Having "enjoyed" the rollercoaster of Internet IPO's, we decided to head for the hills. We call the property you see above "Glen Maple," because it is its own little valley and because of all the native Bigleaf maple trees. Glen Maple is about 200 acres of groves of trees on rolling hills, rocky cliffs and meandering creeks at the top of the Coast Range on the road between Ukiah and Mendocino. The elevation in the valley ranges from over 2,000 feet at the hilltops down to about 1,400 feet along the north drive to the lower meadow. Because we are on the ocean side of the Coast Range here, we frequently get evening and morning fog in the valley.
One of the first things we enjoyed was discovering that Glen Maple is its own world of landscapes and even microclimates. At the top of the property, above the rolling hills that reminded us of the Stanford hills, the wind runs steady and hard. Down in the valley where you can walk from the house to the barn and over to the pond cabin, it is breezy and quiet, and further down in the woods and along the rock cliffs it is completely still and warm. The biggest creek runs among a dense growth of fir trees, a small forest on the side of the hill. The panorama above was taken from the top of the property, which spans from the hills on the left (west) to the hills on the right (east) and the valley in between. If you come visit, it is very easy to learn your way around: If you are in the valley, you are in Glen Maple.
As I walk around Glen Maple, my relationship with this lovely piece of nature keeps changing. When we first arrived, I would delight in owning a valley that was so expansive with so much to offer. Then, watching the deer and the wild turkeys wander by and the turkey vultures fly overhead, the notion of ownership began to seem arrogant and foolish. I realized that we are only caretakers, and I began working harder to enhance the life of the land and its residents. Now I have begun to realize that we are not even caretakers, but one among many that have been taken care of by this beautiful piece of land, and we have a simple responsibility to care of it in retuen.
Below is a tour of some of our favorite parts of Glen Maple. Enjoy. Click on any of the small pictures below to see a larger version (use the "Back" button on your browser to get back to this page).
The "Oak Grove"
Near the middle of the property is a grove with one small Oak, a couple of large Bay trees and one very large maple. Because we "discovered" the grove for the first time by scrambling through the little oak, we called it the Oak Grove. Being precise by nature, once I realized that the oak was the smallest tree in the grove, I tried to rename it the Maple Grove or the Bay Grove, but Shirlie and Dana would have none of it. Once named, it seems that there is no going back.
Camping under the maple Dana swinging Cairo relaxing Cairo running by the grove
Glen Maple Creeks
Running all across Glen Maple there are several creeks. Wherever you are on the property from October to May, you will be serenaded by the sound of falling water. Most of them slow to a trickle or stop during the summer, but even then they provide enough water flow that we used hydro power to generate electricy all winter for our guest cabin. One of the most fun discoveries for us our first winter was the white-water that flowed where we had only seen a trickle before. On our first winter visit, as Shirlie and I got out of the car we did not know what the sound was. I confidently informed Shirlie that it must be the wind high in the trees, but since it was competely still, she gently suggested we should check out the creeks.
Shirlie calculating the summer flow In the winter, after a little rain
One of the nicest parts of living in the country is that we are surrounded by nature. Glen Maple brings a nearly constant stream of visitors who come by and look in house or drink in the pond. We have learned some of their patterns, enjoying the return of the turkeys to their spring breeding rituals as well as the battles for treetops between the turkey vultures and the herons. The most remarkable visits were during a drought year. Our pond has water year-round, so in the late fall when there is very little water anywhere lese, the pond is a site for the seeming happy sharing of water by deer, hawks, turkeys and others, all at the same time.
Watching me on the screened porch Toms gathering Swallowtails love thistles-who knew?
You do have to be a little careful when you open a cabinet or turn a boat over. Not all the critters make you smile, but we have come to enjoy them anyway.
Fuzzy and cute, eh? OK, not so cute... Running in the grass
Staying cool in the summer A visitor from Canada Come for a walk with us!
Places to get out of the rain
Since our arrival, we have been working on a seeming never-ending list of infrastructure and construction projects. Now we have water, solar and hydro power, roads, and shelter, so I think we are done! We were fortunate to find a great builder, Howie Hawkes , who made our dreams and designs come to life.
Our guests' favorite The barn and house In the snow The back porch
The previous owner put in a spring box to capture flow from one of our springs, and we enjoyed the fresh spring water throughout our first years on the property. Eventually we captured it into tanks to provide a consistent source of water under pressure, but for our first couple of years, we carried the water to the cabins in jugs. My mother described us as homesteaders, and sometimes we felt like we were. This spring now provides water for our house and the Pond Cabin, We found a couple more springs and "plumbed" one of them for the guest cabin.
The spring box and pipe in the fall The winter flow
Although I had no idea there were any native California maples, the fall colors across the property taught me different! There are hundreds of Californa Big Leaf Maples that light up yellow and red in October. Thanks to el Nino, in our first year, the tall grasses did their best impression of fields of Egyptian wheat.
Friends enjoying the maples The wind wandering among the grass
Depending on your perspective, our second winter was hard and cold or it was beautiful. Since I spent the winter playing and never had to get anywhere, I will hold out that it was the latter. We were told it snowed a couple of days each winter, but that it usually melted off by noon. We have had a couple of winters when the snow managed to stay on the ground all day for over a week, and Cairo particularly enjoyed those storms. My brother from the beach in Southern California was also there to enjoy a surprise snow in April. I will let you ask him if "enjoy" is the term he would use... Shirlie's brother-in-law arrived once to see the snow, and being an avid skier, he spent the rest of his visit imagining the great ski runs we could create from the top of the drive to the lower meadow. My only recommendataion was that he bring really old skis for our 2" of snow!
Snow in the grove The "dog and truck" shot Cairo running in the snow
This concludes your tour. Trust me when I tell you the scanned images do not do justice to the photographs and the photos do not do justice to the property.
If you want still more pictures, check out the following pages:
Land Cruiser Cruising We have learned the joys of getting around (and getting stuck) in our 1988 Toyota Land Cruiser.
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