Susan Luzzaro 6:30 p.m., July 31
Thunderheads, Orioles, and Fleas
Towering Thunderheads have been seen hovering over the mountains east of San Diego in recent weeks. Afternoon rainshowers have already dampened Palomar, Cuyamaca, and Mount Laguna, with more of the same expected at times during the next two or three weeks. Usually this kind of activity ceases by sunset, and clearing skies usher in a cloud-free night. The marked contrast between the sunny, but bland weather along the coast and the more lively and unpredictable mountain weather is one illustration of San Diego County's "geography of contrast."
Orioles, the bright yellow or yellow-orange-and-black birds seen flitting among the palm trees, are summer residents of San Diego County's coastal areas. A century ago, the orioles preferred to nest in sycamore trees, which were then more common in our area's river bottoms. Today these birds are most likely to take up residence in the planted palm trees, where they obtain fiber to build their nests from the easily shredded fronds.
Fleas, the bane of pets and humans alike, are hopping all over San Diego again as the summer progresses. Fleas were even more troublesome in San Diego County's past than they are today. Soldiers on the Portola expedition over two centuries ago named a deserted Indian village in today's North County "Rancheria de las Pulgas"; and the problem of pulgas ("fleas") in the dusty streets and dwelling places of southern California were commonly mentioned in 19th-century journals and diaries. The place-names Las Pulgas Canyon and Las Pulgas Road in Camp Pendleton are reminders of a timeless torment.