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Spring Fever
May, 2019 - Issue #176
Spring fever isn't something we Claritans usually get to experience. This year was different. As rain, cold and wind intruded on weekends, many started to feel antsy and anxious to get out and enjoy the sunshine. (How lucky we've been to grow tired of rain.). Now, everyone seems to be making up for lost time, synthesizing vitamin D and de-pastifying in short sleeves. Why fight it? In the spirit of springtime, this month's local news roundup is all of the outdoors variety. Outdoor reading is recommended, though a sunny window will suffice.
"Park officials lamented the BAD BEHAVIOR of people who insisted on trampling flowers to get photos. One couple took their helicopter to the reserve and landed it there (That's illegal, incidentally.)."

Super Swarm
When overrun by hornets, we call it a killer swarm. When overrun by locusts, we call it a plague. But when overrun by butterflies, we call it magic. They're just as much insects as the others are, but being pretty lets them get away with a lot. This spring saw an influx of the butterflies known as painted ladies. They are orange and intricately patterned with brown and black and white, at least until they're painted on your windshield, when they become much more uniformly yellow. Unlike other butterflies that just flit about, painted ladies fly in a swift, purposeful migration. I counted about 40 streaming by per minute on a hike at Quigley Canyon trail in Newhall, drove past thousands on the freeway through Burbank and even saw them at the beach. They were everywhere.

Some are still around. Entomologists (bug people) have speculated that ample rain meant there was plenty of food for painted lady caterpillars and plenty of nectar for the butterflies. This allowed numbers to swell and for the butterflies to migrate and linger in Southern California. They don't live very long, but with any luck, we'll see some of their descendants emerging next spring, too.

Super Bloom
In many parts of Southern California, rain meant an abundance of wildflowers. The colorful profusion was visible from space! The phrase "super bloom" was even invented because "more flowers than usual" didn't sound newsy enough. Here in Santa Clarita, we had a bit of a mixed bag. In some places, rain led to rank growth of grasses, obscuring the bloom. Elsewhere, wildflowers were of too many varieties to produce one uniformly jaw-dropping spectacle. But in select patches, our hills look vividly painted, with more yellow or purple or orange flowers than there were green leaves.

A greater spectacle lied in the deserts to our east. The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve lived up to the hype, turning pure orange. Spring fever was, at times, spring insanity. Park officials lamented the bad behavior of people who insisted on trampling flowers to get photos. One couple took their helicopter to the reserve and landed it there (That's illegal, incidentally.). The peak of poppy mania may have passed, but it's not too late for other wildflowers. Our woodland trails will be pink with clarkias through May or June, and there's really always something in bloom, if you'll just look hard enough.

Super Fast
Santa Clarita teens drive far too fast all the time, but one of them recently figured out a way to get paid for it. Valencia's Colton Herta won a big IndyCar race in Texas just before turning 19, which means he is now the youngest person ever to have won an IndyCar race. If the name sounds familiar, it may be because Colton's father was also a successful IndyCar racer. Maybe it's good genetics, or maybe it's the fact that Claritans drive 20 mph over the speed limit that got this kid into true racing form.

Such excesses are fine for the track, but they are being stamped out on our surface streets. In March, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's deputies issued 34 citations in less than a day in what was described as a "bicycle and pedestrian safety enforcement operation." Many of the citations were issued for failing to yield to pedestrians. The advisory stated that deputies would be looking out for pedestrians and bicyclists breaking the law as well. Some took a cynical view of the operation, but a little more cautious driving probably isn't a terrible thing. It's hard to heart springtime in SCV if you're not around.
This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor. Suggestions, catty comments and veiled threats intended for the author can be e-mailed to iheartscv@insidescv.com.
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