Walter Mencken 4 p.m., Dec. 14
Star Jasmine, Snakes, and Bracken Ferns
Star Jasmine's Sweet Perfume, exuded from clusters of small, white flowers, will continue to scent San Diego's spring breezes until sometime in June. Not a true jasmine, or
Snakes, encouraged by recent warm temperatures, have already emerged from burrows and rock crevices to hunt for prey throughout the county's lower-elevation hillsides and canyons. Gopher snakes, garter snakes, king snakes, rosy boas (all harmless), and three varieties of rattlesnakes -- red diamond, speckled, and Southern Pacific rattlesnakes (all poisonous) -- have been sighted. Close encounters with rattlesnakes are not uncommon wherever residential properties abut undeveloped land, a common situation throughout San Diego County.
Bracken Ferns are rising on the higher mountains of San Diego County, their bright green, unfolding fronds (called "fiddleheads") pushing up through the russet remains of last year's growth. Look for waist-high bracken fern along the creeks and hollows of the Palomar, Cuyamaca and Laguna mountains.