Earlier this week, I braved a rare break in our winter storms to get up to Sonoma and check the progress that John the Baptist and Louis have made in our trails and vulnerable flood areas. After last year’s storms, the rains that filled our seasonal creek, in addition to a number of felled trees, caused massive erosion. John and Louis swore it wouldn’t happen again. They’ve been busy for weeks with straw bales and logs and rocks to shore up banks, build run-off channels and divert rainwater from flood-prone areas. After bushwhacking down our most vulnerable trail, I have to say, there’s nothing Mother Nature can throw at us that John and Louis haven’t built defenses against. Not that Mother Nature would want to thwart John and Louis. She’s never looked this good in our neck of the woods. And every lady of a certain age certainly appreciates a little cosmetic help.

For instance, look at this lovely sylvan scene. Untouched Nature at its best, no? NO. This area has had more work by experts than Cher’s face. But the results are equally impressive.

Artful arranging of rocks, wire-screened underwater breakwaters and felled trees have resulted in this beautifully channeled waterway.

C’mon. This is like a Hollywood set. Don’t you just expect Jeremiah Johnson to ride through here?

Last year, this whole bank eroded. This year, a John and Louis waterfall is channeling the runoff.

As always, I learned tons of things on a John and Louis Nature Walk. For instance, did you know that this foam is perfectly natural? Some sort of protein stirred up when the water is running quickly.

And here I was worried someone was polluting my creek with Joy dishwashing detergent.

John even located a piece of petrified Redwood.

Which I was so excited to see that I couldn’t properly focus my camera. Note to self: rephotograph this at a later date.

And let’s give Mother Nature a little credit for dressing things up with lovely mosses and ferns.

John and Louis also pointed out some really cool plants that are starting to sprout. But it was too wet to take out my notebook, so I promptly forgot what they are. But I’m assured they are very special.

Hopefully John or another reader will leave a comment identifying this plant. Update: as you can see from the comments, John the Baptist weighed in identifying this as Golden back fern (Pityrogramma).

And this plant, too. Update: Reader Maybelline correctly identified this as a Maidenhair fern. John the Baptist confirms it.

I’d planned to start a Two Terrier Nature Series on this blog, identifying and showcasing our many native plants. But I realize I’m going to have to do a lot better than this. Note to self: carry pens and notebook at all times.

In the meantime, bring on the rain! We’re ready.