2017 began with rains of record. Aquifers rose. For the first time in many years Kelsey Creek retained water downstream of town throughout the summer. The lake overflowed. Insects flourished. On the ranch, birds had great breeding success, with tree swallows and bluebirds fledging multiple broods. Wood ducks, Barn owls and black headed grosbeaks hatched.
After a cool Spring, the heat of Summer was relentless. By Fall, big wildfires swept the region.
This mid-summer clutch of tree swallow eggs never hatched. Instead, it cooked in the extreme heat. But several clutches laid earlier in the season successfully fledged.
Ranch in the rain-shadow.
The Three Graces at Stoneyford Store.
Herds of elk move seasonally down to pasture around Stoneyford from Lake County's Mendocino National Forest. Some elk unwillingly give up their heads, which end up as wall-mounted trophies.
Taxidermy at Stoneyford store typifies the ubiquity of the craft throughout the West in country stores, bars, restaurants, lodges, sporting goods stores and private homes. Taxidermy is surely the region's most visible art form, a cultural touchstone speaking of the romance of wild country and big animals. The mounted specimens may be seen as reliquaries of animal magic, but unlike the carved animal effigies seen in African and Asian masks, here we have the animal itself... almost.
The visual effect on seeing rank after rank of every possible species of North American big game animal decorating the walls of a large sporting goods store, puts one in mind of a charnel house.
In the show ring at the Pear Festival.
Kelseyville still resembles its former self.
East to Konocti.
A bald eagle seized a fish from an osprey at Letts Lake, Mendocino National Forest.