November in the Bay Area means there will be California oak moths in the woodlands. There are a lot more of them this year than last year. This is good news for the birds and spiders that eat them. Silvery grey, about the size of a nickel, they are noticeable only when they flutter about. (They are camouflaged by the now silvery colored oak leaves.)
Where to See Oak Moths
If you are in the Monterey Bay area, the Elkhorn Slough Reserve is a good place to see California oak moths. The trails along the Long Valley, South Marsh and Five Fingers loops are home to oak woodland and forests. Wherever the woodlands are, you are sure to find oak moths. If you hike the South Marsh trail, stop by Hummingbird Island. It is a great place to see hummingbirds and sometimes, otters as well. Closer to the San Francisco peninsula, you will find oak moths in the Palo Alto Foothills and in the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve.
In the Cupertino foothills, off Stevens Canyon Road and Monte Bello Road, is a lovely preserve with a working winery. The preserve is accessible to hikers, bikers and equestrians. None of the trails I’ve taken are particularly strenuous and the views, especially those overlooking the pond, are magnificent. Sounds from a nearby quarry and gun range intrude on an otherwise peaceful space.
Below are some photographs that I took during my first October in the Bay Area. (They were taken with an old cell phone and so, not too good. I apologize.) I was struck by the amazing light and the brightness at that time of year. Octobers in Jamaica are, in contrast, dark, gloomy and wet. I don’t remember ever having a sunny or a dry birthday growing up there. In Jamaica, October birthdays mean no outdoor celebrations, games or donkey cart rides. But I guess it beats having to deal with rattlesnakes, which, if you are at Picchetti, you need to be wary of. Out near the entrance is a large oaken wine barrel with a “Welcome to Picchetti Winery” sign attached to it. Right below, atop the “No dogs allowed” sign, is a sign that tells you to look out for the indigenous specie, rattlesnakes. Yikes!
If you are in the Cupertino foothills, check out the preserve and the winery and say hello to its two resident peacocks. Wine tasting flourishes inside the winery where, for five-dollars, you can sample 5 different wines (or is it for ten-dollars that you get to sample 5 wines?). I’ve forgotten the details but it doesn’t matter. It’s a great deal and this certainly is a great way to unwind after doing restoration work on the Zinfandel Trail. And peacock feathers amidst the lights? How festive! They remind me of my childhood at Belvedere where we had lots of peahens and peacocks; and who can forget their crazy screaming noises from the rooftops at Trident Villas?
When at Picchetti, also go visit “the Picchetti tree.” There are so many beautiful old trees in California. The Picchetti tree, an oak, is more than one-hundred years old. I was drawn to it in much the say way I have been drawn to certain trees my whole life. Huge old trees are a humbling sight while trees laden with mangoes are a joyous sight.
Some humbling things are magnificent old trees, massive rock formations like the ones at Yosemite, and great big whales like the ones seen from the deck of a boat off the Boston Harbor. Being up close to these things make me feel insignificant – as if I were nothing – when compared to them.