I needed a mental reset from the past two weeks. COP 26 was a bust, flooding in the PNW due to climate change and destructive logging practices ravaged areas I grew up around, the Brazilian Amazon hit a record high level of destruction, politicians in North America are complete nincompoops, and these headlines seemingly have no end. Exhausting and depressing. Sooooo, some cuteness is in order!
Over the past year and a bit, I’ve been collecting photos when I see the shape of a heart in a natural setting. So in this post, I gathered those photos and included some context to the photo. All but perhaps two of these photos were naturally formed. I enjoyed re-living these photos and the circumstances around finding them, and I hope you do too.
As I was enjoying the sunset on the west ridge above the Lillooet river in the Upper Lillooet Provincial Park when I noticed this heart-shaped rock, right in front of me. This sunset is still in the top few memorable sunsets I’ve witnessed, so discovering a heart made the moment extra special, even emotional. Even though I didn’t grow up in Pemberton, I’ve spent a lot of time in the upper parts of the valley exploring, bushwacking, and appreciating its wildness and beauty. The serenity didn’t last too long as we were going to be in for one hell of a night, read about it here.
Above is a collection of hearts I found in living organisms, instead of rocks like the majority in this post.
The top left is the underside of a redwood sorrel leaf in Van Damme State Park (Mendocino County, CA). Redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregano) grows in Redwood forests in Western North America and is edible in small quantities, it’s quite the sour explosion! Normally this leaf blade would be adjacent to two others and create a clover-esc-shaped ground cover.
Top right: Chomp chomp! Someone took a bite of this Slipper Jack (Genus Suillus), observed at Quail Hollow Ranch County Park (Santa Cruz, CA). I’ve seen many mushrooms with bite marks, but this one REQUIRED me to document its unique shape. While some Suillus species are edible, this thick darker cap coat should be removed as it can act as a laxative. No thanks!
Bottom Left: While on a rare plant hunt near Elsinore peak in the Santa Ana Mountains in southern California I stumbled upon this patch of moss. How cute!
Bottom Right: Bah, this one might be the only photo I didn’t take for the initial reason of capturing a heart shape while in nature. Any guesses why? What’s peculiar about the color, or colors of the water? If you guessed I took the photo for the sheen on this tiny puddle, bingo bongo, gold star! I took this photo during the Whistler Bioblitz. The sheen is actually iron bacteria, a naturally occurring bacteria that occurs in the soil. Since the point of a BioBlitz is to document as many living organisms as possible within an area, at least documenting those who may have not been recorded before, I had to take a quick shot! Well, it had been recorded, but it was still worth documenting this lovely shaped puddle!
Abbotts Lagoon is a place I’ve visited many times since moving to CA in 2017. The lagoon is a fantastic spot within Point Reyes National Seashore to bird-watch, hunt for rare plants, and turn over beach wrack for neat insects. On this day I found a heart in a break between the saltbushes and whatever brown ground-cover plant we see here.
Sending some love to the tule elk populations out there who are at best, sadly mismanaged by the current authorities, if you live near or visit Point Reyes, please become educated on the current corruption.
Whitewater Preserve, located outside Palm Springs, CA contains a section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The PCT gets thousands of permits each year (in 2019, the number was 7,888), but that doesn’t account for all the day hikers or those that do shorter hikes rather than the full Mexico to Canada stretch. So I’d like to think this dirt-filled depression in this random boulder is sending some luv and good wishes to all the hikers that pass.
Hiking in the San Francisco Bay Area in December could involve bundling up with a rain jacket in your backpack, just in case the clouds decide to produce a spit of precipitation. Or, you’re sweating off your sunscreen halfway up the hill. On this day in 2020 at the Loma Alta Preserve in Fairfax, CA I was one sweaty woman. Along the “trail” aka a sad overexposed hillside, deprived of foliage due to cattle, a small section of oaks appeared. On one of those oaks was this heart. Now I’m not entirely sure how this was created, and today, as I write this I blissfully want to believe it’s natural. I love nature and don’t want to think someone did something nasty to this lovely oak to create this art.
Left: Coachella Valley Preserve-Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve, and according to the app Rockd the geology here is Quaternary alluvium and marine deposits. I thought this rock looked sedimentary, which means our mineral-abundant rock friend here could have one day been the ocean floor and is now composed of long-dead marine organisms.
Middle: When we lived in Joshua Tree for a few months this spring I saw quite the selection of surprising things in the desert. Sometimes it was extremely random trash, other times I’d stumble upon art created with rocks, and this was one of them. Trevor and I were out exploring the washes between Whitewater, CA, and Whitewater Preserve. The spot was nowhere near a trail or even a good spot to enjoy the valley view. Who created this? I’ll never know, but perhaps someone was also out looking for flowering plants in the middle of a CA drought, which forces us, botanists, to go to the extremes and look in some odd places.
Right: Some of these hearts took miles to reach, and other times, like this one it was smack dab in the middle of a trail. In this case, the trail was Branch 12 towards Tenquille Lakein British Columbia. I love the sharp edges on this bad boy, quite the cutie.
To finish, I have a plastic heart I found on Morro Strand State Beach, in Morro Bay, CA. If you enjoyed this post, and enjoy spending time in nature then perhaps think about what small act you can do today to help our one and only earth.