In the past 121 years every February has seen at least some rainfall. This year (2020) we experienced the first dry February since 1899.

Because of this (and other factors), the vernal pool grasslands have stayed significantly dry and the vernal pools are merely depressions, unfilled.

In response to this, we may ask, “What is the point of visiting and/or appreciating the vernal pools if there is no water?”

My response to that would be ….”It’s the little things.”

For many of us in our lives, there isn’t just one major, life-altering occurrence that defines us. Instead, we have a multitude of little details and happenings that accumulate and gradually make up who we are.

For vernal pools, it is quite similar.

Last week our Vernal Pool Docents went out on the trail to plan for the upcoming guided hiking season at Rancho Seco Park. At first glance, it seemed only to be a blanket of green extending over a flat landscape.

However, once we approached the dry vernal pools, our docents went on hands and knees, pointing out and discovering a unique array of small wildflowers growing in the base of the pools.

From there, the world of the “micro” took over and revealed to us how much life existed within and relied on the vernal pools, despite the lack of water.

It brought up a great discussion amongst the group on how assuming the worth of something without taking the time to look closer and understand deeper can mislead us into believing nothing is really there. Once we opened our eyes to the possibility that there is beauty in the “micro,” we were able to uncover all the potential that the upcoming hikes could have in showing visitors the unique and intricate habitat that is vernal pools.

In addition to what you’ll see with the naked eye, there is also a world of history and science that goes behind the vernal pool grassland existing at Rancho Seco Park; the mysterious mima mounds, the native Miwok that once utilized the landscape, the relationship between ranching, mining, and the grasslands, and the list goes on.

While the pools will not provide you with a showy display of water reflecting the skies and wildflowers blooming in massive rings this year, we hope that you take the time to join us on a guided hike this season and discover the “little things,” that make this place so unique.

To sign up for the guided hikes, go to the “Activity Calendar” tab above.

By Saige White

It’s the Little Things

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