Cicadas are singing on the Overlook! Plus, the wildflower explosion continues, so come on over and have an Out of Africa moment.
Walking the Overlook and Montini trails is a treasure hunt these days, with an artist’s palette of wildflowers making themselves seen early this year. Grab one of our newly updated Wildflower brochures at the kiosk, and take a gander at the new Wildlife Panel as well to get an overview of all of the flora and fauna.
“On March 9th, a beautiful new Nature Panel was installed in the Kiosk at the main trailhead of the Overlook Trail. Funded solely by donations from Trail Stewards, the new panel features all of the up-to-date common names of many of the wonderful birds, mammals, reptiles and plants that help make the Trail such a delightful place. To assist even the casual hiker with identification, several of the most frequently seen and most lovely wildflowers are depicted in greater detail in a special expanded section. Superb original artwork by Irene Guidici Ehret is now also joined by artist Don Boucher’s stunning portrait of the native Gray Fox. The Overlook Trail Stewards that assisted in the installation of the panel included Michael Studebaker, Kurt Teuber and Dan Noreen.”
Dan Noreen, Overlook Flora Specialist
I confess: I have begun writing a post many times in the past to talk about why we Overlook stewards give of our time, energy and essence to this endeavor, and why it matters. Each time, the words simply didn’t come, and so I would delete the post without publishing it. Today, I’d like to attempt to speak for the team on the notion of why we do it.
There are many benefits to being of service, to giving back to your local community or the global good. These may include recognition, accolades, credit, and even occasional material rewards. You tend to meet some of the best and most interesting people when you volunteer, and it’s a fantastic way to network. Plus it looks great on your resumé!
There are also physiological benefits to volunteering as long as you perform it willingly: studies show that acts of service encourage your body to generate telomerase, an enzyme that helps to heal the ends of your chromosomes. And if you work the trails like some of us, it’s an excellent source of cardio and weight bearing. 🙂
This is all wonderful, and reason enough. Far beyond that, however, I can tell you that there is a stunning depth of satisfaction in one’s life that is born and thrives when one devotes oneself to these acts even in small stints. It doesn’t matter what cause you choose as long as you help to drive it towards the best outcome. Push the spinning wheel a bit further onwards, chop wood, carry water. Just jump in somewhere and you will eventually find the work that jives with what you have to offer. As you do, you and your comrades, you will find the real reward, the one that words can’t describe.
Last weekend’s refreshing rain storm is likely to have rejuvenated more than just our local waterways:
“…for someone hiking, ticks will have gone from practically zero a couple of weeks ago to being out…and their numbers will probably be increasing through January.”
A few tips from the American Hiking Society:
- Determine risk: Spring and early summer are high-risk for ticks because ticks are in an earlier stage of their development, called “nymphs.” Nymphs often carry heavier loads of disease-causing pathogens, and are smaller and harder to spot. Tall grass and brush are higher-risk, too, because ticks can easily climb on to hikers.
- Wear long and wear light! Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants of a light color. Lighter colors seem to attract fewer ticks and make the ones that do end up on you easier to spot. Lightweight nylon or polyester garments are almost as cool as shorts and protect from the sun as a bonus!
- Seal the cracks. Tuck your shirt into your pants and tuck your pants into your socks. Gaiters can add an additional level of protection and keep small rocks and dirt out of your shoes too.
- Repel invaders! Consider treating your clothing with a persistent repellent chemical called permethrin. This substance, applied to clothing, repels ticks and biting insects for up to 2 weeks. Some clothing comes already coated with this deterrent. Apply an additional repellent to all exposed skin.
- Wash your hiking clothes. As soon as you get off the trail, wash your hiking clothes and dry them in a hot dryer for an hour. The heat will kill any ticks.
- Tick check. Showering within two hours of leaving the trail will help wash off any ticks which haven’t latched on. Using a hand-held or full length mirror, take this time to check yourself for ticks, especially checking armpits, hair, ears and behind the ears, belly button, behind the knees, and groin. Be sure to also thoroughly check your children and pets.
- Remove any ticks. If you do happen to find a tick on yourself, do not use the old trick of poking the tick with a hot match head until it comes out. Do use tweezers and grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and slowly pull it out. If you can’t grab the head in the first go, make sure to pull it out before washing the bite with a disinfectant. View the CDC’s easy-to-follow tick removal instructions and pictures.
- Stay vigilant. If you develop a fever, rash, muscle and/or joint aches, flu-like symptoms or become ill, be sure to mention to your doctor possible tick exposure. Lyme disease is very serious and can cause permanent damage in bones and the nervous system. Tick bites that develop a bulls-eye ring are infected and should be treated immediately.
If you find that you have been bitten by a tick, save the insect after removal and submit it to Sonoma County Department of Public Health for Lyme testing: