So, yeah, I take Lily to this Ancient Pathways class because she loves it. Yeah, that’s what I claim, but the reality of it is I love the class. She’s an excuse to go to the classes. LOL I’m constantly learning new things when I go. It could safely be said that I am perhaps more enthusiastic about learning what Chris has to teach than my daughter. Not that she doesn’t love the class, just that I am a bit more, um, attentive. She gets distracted with the other kids, the environment (trees to climb, things to see), and whatnot.

Note: You will notice that some of the thumbnail pictures are sideways. However, if you click on the photos, they will enlarge and pop up on the right axis.

western fence lizard

Western Fence Lizard

Well, the most recent class, we learned how to make a lizard snare from a stalk of wild oat. Yes, a lizard snare. Do they work? They do. One of the kids managed to snare a lizard with their snare. Alas, I did not take a picture of this snare, but I did take a picture of Chris with the lizard.

This little guy is the western fence lizard, and he cures lime’s disease. Yes. Yes, he does. You see, if an infected tick drinks the blood of this lizard, by the time it’s done drinking, the tick no longer has the disease. It’s one reason why lime disease is not as prevalent on the West Coast. (I don’t know why this picture on the right is sideways. I didn’t take the picture sideways.)

western fence lizard sleeping

Western Fence Lizard sleeping

You can’t really see it, but the lizard has two blue vertical stripes down his belly. He’s a real beauty. These lizards are pretty tame as lizards go and unlikely to bite. That doesn’t mean you can’t get them to bite, but they don’t usually bite.

On the left, you can see that Chris put him to sleep by flipping him on his back and petting his belly. The kids were hovering over him, so he didn’t stay asleep too long. When he “woke,” he leapt up, landed in one child’s hair and then scampered off into the brush. The kids were hot on his heels. It took all of the parents reining them in to stop the kids from tormenting that poor lizard. LOL

oak gall

Oak Gall

Oak gall. Either a wasp or fly has laid an egg/eggs in the oak. This is the oak’s reaction to it. I guess you could say it’s the oak’s way of protecting itself, like an immune reaction. This particular oak is a live oak. Where I grew up in the Central Valley of California, we have Valley oaks. I remember seeing these all over them (usually a burnt umber/rust color) and never knowing what caused them. At certain times of the year, we have millions of miniscule balls that bounce on the ground. I’m not sure what causes those. Perhaps I’ll have an opportunity to ask Chris next time around… if I remember.



Periwinkle is an exotic. What that means is it’s not native to the area. Periwinkle, like nasturtiums, honeysuckle, and a variety of other exotics, are invasive. They can, and often do, crowd out native plants. One thing about periwinkles is that they have runners that are good for basket weaving. Because they are an exotic, you don’t have to feel bad about pulling them out. You are actually doing the local flora a favor by doing it.


wild radish

Wild Radish

Wild radish is one of the many edible plants in Temescal Canyon. A member of the mustard family, if you rub it’s leaaves, you can smell the spicy scent of mustard. If you read my earlier blog, you’d know I’m not a fan of the mustard plant. I love the condiment mustard. Not so much the leaf. However, its little pink flowers are very pretty. I I like the crunchiness of radishes, but rarely eat them. One of the many downfalls of living a house with one real vegetable love. (grin)

arroyo willow

Arroyo Willow

This one is an arroyo willow. Native American Indians have used willow to soothe headaches for years. They would pull a leaf off of the tree and chew on it. Willow was precursor to aspirin. Why does it work? The bark contains salicylic acid. Apparently, salicylic acid is good for topical application for acne. If you look closely, you will see that the willows are “blooming.” Any time you brushed by one or the wind blew, seeds in the form of small white puff ball took to the air. Sometimes, they were so thick it could’ve been snowing. Okay, that’s Los Angeles’ version of snow. 😉

Mugwort Leaf

Mugwort Leaf

Mugwort is a sacred plant to the Chumash Indians. If you set some by your pillow and eat a few leaves, it will make your dreams more lucid. You can also just set it by your pillow, and it is supposed to do the some thing, but the effect is not as potent. So, it’s a hallucinogenic. As my dreams are pretty lucid now, I think I’ll pass. 😉 However, this next fact I found to be very useful, considering that poison oak was everywhere. It lurked next to paths, in paths, hung from trees and just seemed to be everywhere. So take heed: if you rub against poison oak, find some mugwort (it’s just as prevalent) and rub it where the poison oak touched you. Not only does it take the itch away, but it neutralizes the acid. I’m not sure if you have to do this immediately to be effective, or if it doesn’t matter. Somewhere, I have a picture of a bigger amount, but I can’t seem to find it right now.

prickly sow thistle

Prickly Sow Thistle

Another sideways photo. (sigh) Regardless, this little plant is known as the prickly sow thistle. It is an edible lettuce and has a milky sap. Although I didn’t try this particular lettuce, I imagine it’s pretty bitter as a lot of the wild lettuces are. However, don’t take my word for it. Find some and try it yourself. Just be sure you do it far enough off the path. We have a lot of dogs who walk the path. Eating something from right next to the path, might also mean eating dog urine. Yeah, I know, gross, but I don’t I’d warm you.

Sage Brush Chopsticks

Sage Brush Chopsticks

Another sacred plant: Sage brush. Used in a lot of ceremonies, the wood is also very hard. The Chumash used this for the tip of an arrow. In this case, Chris is using them as chopsticks. (And, yes, once again, the picture is sideways. No rhyme or reason here, folks. It just is.) He taught us how to make them this class. Again, the parents were more intent on making the chopsticks than the children, but it’s all good. When we have the time, we will teach our children how to make chopsticks.



Horsetail. This is good for hand drill–starting fires. I can remember this being all over the place where I grew up. It’s amazing how many plants are useful, but we are completely unaware of what we can do with them. I guess this comes from living away from the land.

An I leave you with these last two photos are of the wild currant. If you look closely, you will see there are still a few small yellow on the bush; others are going to fruit. As one might expect, the berries are edible. They grow to about the size of a small pea. The berry pic is a bit blurry. The wind was blowing and the phone wasn’t focusing properly, but you can just see the small green fruit.


wild currant flowers

Wild Currant Flowers


wild currant berries

Wild Currant Berries