Bees and a butterfly feeding on goldenrod. Photo by Bruce Watts

It certainly has been an interesting summer with a strange monsoonal flow of thunderhead clouds building up almost every day for over a month.


Nearly 30 years ago, in the early 1980s, I remember this much lighting, thunder and rain for a period lasting this long.

Some of you Hillbillies may remember The Baker in the Forest restaurant at Fern Valley corners. I was working in the kitchen there at the time and we served lunch outside along Strawberry Creek. Every day, the tables were set up at noon for the lunch crowd. For about three weeks, we had a daily cloudburst and rain storm at 12:01 p.m.

After seeing all the sugar packets and salt and pepper shakers getting ruined day after day, I finally stopped setting up the outside tables. People still were coming at lunch time and asking to sit outside. When I told them no, they would protest.

I told them, “Wait five minutes and you will see why.” Sure enough, the rain fell right on schedule. It was like some kind of vortex directly over the restaurant.
Sure, we have had snowstorms in June, snow on Memorial Day and a titanic hailstorm on Labor Day a few years back, but I don’t think we have ever had this many cloudy days in July and August.
This brings up the questions: Is this an effect of global warming? Is cloudy, hot and humid the new normal for Idyllwild in the summer time? I wonder.
As Mark Twain once said, “Everyone talks about the weather but no one ever does anything about it.” Whether you believe in global warming or not, you have to admit it seems like something is going on and it is something big.
On a more positive note, the clouds have made for the best summer ever for taking landscape photos. With clear blue skies, clean air and those wonderful and dramatic thunderhead clouds drifting over the mountain peaks you could not ask for better opportunities for the shutterbugs in town, particularly around sunset.
With all the rain we have had the mountain is much greener than usual at the end of summer and some of the later blooming plants are still in flower. I have been doing some yard cleanup and made several trips to the Transfer Station last week. I went past a large bush with golden yellow flowers just uphill from the road near the dump entrance.
After passing this plant several times, I finally took my camera along and stopped to add a photo of this plant to my collection. I determined that it was a goldenrod species, but it was much bigger than the other goldenrods that I had encountered earlier.
After climbing a few feet up the hill with camera in hand, I was amazed to see that the flowers were literally covered in insects. Bees were too numerous to count and, at least seven butterflies were feeding and ignoring my presence.
It was so nice with the blue skies and white puffy clouds in the background, the green and gold of the plant and the crown of orange butterflies that I went back the next day just to shoot a few more pictures.
Until next week have fun, be safe.


  1. Bruce: The plant near the transfer station with yellow/gold flowers you mentioned in your article this week; that is Ericameria parishii. Next time you drive by, walk up to it and smell the plant leaves, not the flowers; amazing. A great pollinator plant, one of the best around. There can be many species of bees feeding off the plant at the same time; I have heard of accounts of more than 7 species of bees feeding at one time. Butterflies love it too, as you witnessed. Not too many on the hill, I know of about three, many more down in the Twin Pines area.

    Jackie Lasater, Wild California Native Plants, Idyllwild

  2. Thanks Jackie for the info on this species. I have never seen it before and have since discovered 3 or 4 more plants growing on the highway betwenn Idy and Mt. Center. Nothing in my books on E. parishii but they do list 3 other species in this genus. I will look it up online.

    The plant was literally covered in bees and butterflies and I took several dozen photos over a two day period. Many of them were very nice because of the blue sky and white clouds contrasting with the golden flowers. Because it ia such a late bloomer the plants really stand out when you drive by on the way to thwe dump.

    Bruce Watts

  3. Hi Bruce,
    Beautiful photo, so green and gold! Loved the Mark Twain quote too! Interesting part about the rain and the restaurant, I sure do love reading your articles every week!
    Take care,
    P.S. Always enjoy seeing bees and butterflies!