Superlocal Rain and Weather

When the severe weather arrives, we are always trying to gauge what’s happening right in the Oakland Hills.  Somehow reports from Oakland’s airport or other Bay Area locales doesn’t cut it.

The superlocal weather stations are currently reporting through Wunderground online.  Enter your address, and the site returns the nearest reporting location to you.

Or click to see live and historical weather at these locations:   Indian Way — Joaquin Miller — Piedmont Pines — Above Thornhill.

As you are probably aware, there’s a hazardous weather warning  issued by the National Weather Service for the Bay Area.  We assume you have already battened down the hatches.

Yes, the rains and floods do happen this time of year.  Remember to pay attention and clear nearby storm drains of debris and leaves — whether you have officially adopted a drain or not.

To protect your turf, come and pick up sandbags and plastic sheeting at the Public Works’ satellite office:  5921 Shepherd Canyon Road.  If you are experiencing storm-related damage, then make sure to call Oakland’s Public Works Call Center at (510) 615-5566 for emergency help.

Montclair Virtual Art Gallery: Meet David Miller

Just as there are poet laureates, our East Bay Parks laureate should be artist David M. Miller.  He creates beautiful watercolors and oils, and shares our local scenery, weather and moods perfectly.

Let’s start with this Redwood Regional Park painting, which captures second generation trees and filtered light so well.  The image literally feels like the walks we take all the time, while wandering around the hillside trees.

Miller likes to experiment with different kinds of work, and created this thistle as a focal point for Wildcat Canyon scenery.  Using watercolor and ink, he’s able to shift from a typical view to something that’s…typically all over our socks after a walk.

We next travel to Lake Chabot, where Miller’s watercolor plays up the lakeside itself.  Notice the prominent reeds and growth around the large reservoir, along with the subtle colors which emerge here.  This image lets you stop and soak in the place, especially during the summer season.

Wrapping up the local parks tour, Miller captures a slightly ominous Tilden Park sunset.  We experience an imperfect, past-peak sunset, which contributes to our discomfort.  Add in the birds, and this painting feels a bit like Hitchcock, no?

David Miller lives in Berkeley, but we’ll claim him as a Montclarion.  His love of the Oakland and Berkeley hills is outstanding, and his plein air painting honors our place.  He grew up at Point Reyes, and embraced his artistic side while working as an engineer.  Now he insists on painting every single day, and experiments with political and other genres as well.

For the past decade, Miller has created and displayed his artwork around the Bay Area.  He last showed his works locally, at the Montclair Gallery, back in 2008.  Since then, he has been part of featured and group shows nearby.  Visit David’s website here, which lists his schedule and presents an even larger virtual gallery.  You may reach him at or call 510-816-9581.

Native Plant Sale

The Friends of Sausal Creek (FOSC) will hold its fall Native Plant Sale on Sunday, October 24, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Joaquin Miller Park Native Plant Nursery. A flyer can be downloaded here.

Native plant experts will be available all day to help shoppers pick appropriate plants for their specific planting areas. This year’s plant sale will feature workshops and live music throughout the day to celebrate completion of the nursery’s expanded shady propagation and growing area and new teaching circle.

11:00  Native Bees and Your Garden with Jennifer Smith

12:00  Native Bird Connections:  Live Owls and Raptors of the Watershed!

12:30  Gardening with Native Plants

1:00    Keeping Urban Chickens with Thomas Kriese

1:30    Growing and Propagating Native Plants with Karen Paulsell

There will also be tables to visit, including Alameda County Master Gardeners to answer your gardening questions and “The Spider Chick” Linda Erickson with awesome live arachnids, plus face painting for the kids. Live music will be provided by Harlan James Bluegrass Band and Juke Joint Johnny. This year’s sale is an event not to be missed! Bring your family, neighbors, and friends…and, if possible, a cardboard box to get your plants safely home with you.

Douglas Iris

For more information, please visit the website, email, or call (510) 501-3672. To volunteer to help before or during the sale, contact or call (510) 325-9006.

The nursery is located in Joaquin Miller Park on Sanborn Road. From Highway 13, go east on Joaquin Miller Road. Turn left on Sanborn and park near the community center. Follow signs to the nursery, about 1/4 mile.

Creek to Bay Day

Head out to your favorite creek this Saturday to rip up that Himalayan Blackberry and Algerian Ivy.

Many of the local events for Creek to Bay Day involve removing the invasive species that choke the natives growing on the banks of the area’s creeks: douglas iris, yellow-eyed grass, and monkey flower to name but a few.  Here’s where you can find a Creek to Bay Day event near you. Kimra McAfee of Friends of Sausal Creek reminds volunteers to bring gloves, water, and plenty o’ sunscreen.

Rara Avis in Claremont Canyon

We’re going to stick with the wildlife a little bit longer.

Indigo Bunting (Photo by Pat Bachetti)Kay Loughman runs a beautiful and fascinating website called Wild Life in the North Hills. It’s all about the flora and fauna in Claremont Canyon. She has pictures of everything from a grey fox lounging on a patio chair to a banana slug slithering across a stone. She’s a keen naturalist and a skilled photographer. The only thing more remarkable than all of the natural beauty at our doorstep is how easy it is to forget it’s there during the course of a busy week. Loughman’s website is a good reminder.

We asked Loughman for the news this summer from the world of Oakland’s birds, bugs, and other critters. She said that the big story so far was the indigo bunting sharp-eyed birdwatchers spied in Claremont Canyon back in June. Common back east, the indigo bunting is very rare this far west. Phila Rogers wrote about it on her blog at the Lawrence Hall of Science.