Local, Walks & Hikes

Oakland’s Serpentine Earth

Today is Earth Day.  As we honor the land, air, sea, and all that is our planet I choose to share pictures of the Serpentine Prairie in the Oakland Hills.  Last weekend I spent some time wandering the prairie at dawn.  The word prairie is something we typically associate with the endless grasslands of the Mississippi River Valley, but tucked in this corner of Redwood Regional Park we have our own little prairie, one that holds a flower that is unique to only two places in the world.  While I was a bit early in the season to see the Presidio Clarkia in bloom, which grows only in the Serpentine Prairie and the Presidio of San Francisco, I was still able to enjoy the quiet, the color of the wildflowers, and to appreciate yet another amazing spot within our city limits.  Named for the rock Serpentine, which is the state rock of California and found throughout this area, the Serpentine Prairie is yet another reason why I love Oakland.

So as we pay respect to Earth during this month of April, which is also dedicated to appreciation of poetry, I am sharing some works about earth and nature and hope that they inspire you to honor Earth in your own way today…and everyday.






Part Two: Nature

NATURE, the gentlest mother,
Impatient of no child,
The feeblest or the waywardest,—
Her admonition mild

In forest and the hill
By traveller is heard,
Restraining rampant squirrel
Or too impetuous bird.

How fair her conversation,
A summer afternoon,—
Her household, her assembly;
And when the sun goes down

Her voice among the aisles
Incites the timid prayer
Of the minutest cricket,
The most unworthy flower.

When all the children sleep
She turns as long away
As will suffice to light her lamps;
Then, bending from the sky,

With infinite affection
And infiniter care,
Her golden finger on her lip,
Wills silence everywhere.

Emily Dickinson





Among The Rocks

Oh, good gigantic smile o’ the brown old earth,
This autumn morning! How he sets his bones
To bask i’ the sun, and thrusts out knees and feet
For the ripple to run over in its mirth;
Listening the while, where on the heap of stones
The white breast of the sea-lark twitters sweet.

That is the doctrine, simple, ancient, true;
Such is life’s trial, as old earth smiles and knows.
If you loved only what were worth your love,
Love were clear gain, and wholly well for you:
Make the low nature better by your throes!
Give earth yourself, go up for gain above!

Robert Browning




Trees Need Not Walk the Earth

Trees need not walk the earth
For beauty or for bread;
Beauty will come to them
Where they stand.
Here among the children of the sap
Is no pride of ancestry:
A birch may wear no less the morning
Than an oak.
Here are no heirlooms
Save those of loveliness,
In which each tree
Is kingly in its heritage of grace.
Here is but beauty’s wisdom
In which all trees are wise.
Trees need not walk the earth
For beauty or for bread;
Beauty will come to them
In the rainbow—
The sunlight—
And the lilac-haunted rain;
And bread will come to them
As beauty came:
In the rainbow—
In the sunlight—
In the rain.

David Rosenthal







O Nature! I do not aspire
To be the highest in thy choir, –
To be a meteor in thy sky,
Or comet that may range on high;
Only a zephyr that may blow
Among the reeds by the river low;
Give me thy most privy place
Where to run my airy race.

In some withdrawn, unpublic mead
Let me sigh upon a reed,
Or in the woods, with leafy din,
Whisper the still evening in:
Some still work give me to do, –
Only – be it near to you!

For I’d rather be thy child
And pupil, in the forest wild,
Than be the king of men elsewhere,
And most sovereign slave of care;
To have one moment of thy dawn,
Than share the city’s year forlorn.

Henry David Thoreau



Enjoy your weekend…


For more information about the Serpentine Prairie, which includes a link to a wonderful guide to its wildflowers, visit EBPRD’s page here.

Poem Sources:
Part Two: Nature I: www.bartleyby.com
Among The Rocks: www.poetryfoundation.org
Trees Need Not Walk the Earth: www.poets.org
Nature: www.yourdailypoem.com

Photo Credits:

The photo of the Presidio Clarkia flower was sourced via wikimedia commons here.
Three photos in the above are not mine but I felt they rounded out the feel of the Serpentine Prairie. The third photo in the 1st set, the first photo in the 4th set with the 2 boulders, and the 2nd photo in the last set were sourced from flickr creative commons here.
All other photos by Adrienne Schell

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