Cottony Clouds

FEATURED NATIVE TREE: Cottonwood /Populus Fremontii
TREE THREE DATES: Post Selfie Pics April 15th to April 22nd

Take a selfie with featured tree during this week of April Tree Hunt. Post using @guardiansaroundtheearth on Instagram or #OpenYourGATE on Facebook. Post all 4 featured trees (and follow page) to enter raffle on April 30th – Arbor Day.

Cottony Cool Quotes

Perhaps you have noticed that even in the very lightest breeze you can hear the voice of the cottonwood tree; this we understand is its prayer to the Great Spirit, for not only men, but all things and all beings pray continually in differing ways.

Black Elk

♫ Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above –
Don’t fence me in.
Let me ride through the wide, open country that I love –
Don’t fence me in.
Let me be by myself in the evenin’ breeze,
Listenin’ to the murmur of the cottonwood trees.
Send me off forever but I ask you please –
Don’t fence me in. ♫

Cole Porter
Heart-Shaped Cottonwood Leaves


  • Fremont Cottonwood’s glossy leaves are triangular, slightly toothed and ♥ shaped. Cottonwood leaves known for rustling song they sing even with gentle breezes.
  • Cottonwood/ Aspen / Poplar all in genus “POPULUS” have short lives for trees. They live about 100 years and grow quickly to about 100 feet.
  • Poplars often form groves in barren, burned, or cleared areas. Groves are communities of trees that support and communicate with each other.
  • Fremont Cottonwood is related to Willow. They love waterways.
  • Cottonwoods grow fast in moist areas by creeks, streams and irrigation ditches but tolerate dry soil too.
  • Thick bark of cottonwood helps this tree survive wildfires.
  • Lewis and Clark attribute their success mostly to this tree.
  • Beautiful seasonal tree – flowering in Spring, cottony in Summer, colorful in Fall.
  • Pollinated seeds spread as snow for just two weeks in Summer. So, if allergic to cottonwood, their snow marks an end to suffering.
  • Cottony seeds blow up to FIVE MILES, on a windy day maybe more!
  • AZ Hopi Peoples hold Cottonwood Sacred – Listen to Wind Messages
  • Squirrels and birds eat tree buds, plus woodpeckers and raccoons shelter within.
  • BARK, like people, is smooth when young, wrinkled when older. Also like people, branches break when very old.
Raptor home-tree on Golden Hills Nature Trails


  • When you see cottonwoods you know water is nearby.
  • Paper and cardboard are made from this softwood pulp.
  • Edible – Sap is Sweet, Bark is Bitter.
  • Inner Bark fibers used for cord making.
  • Central Cali Yokut Peoples use cottonwood twigs in their basketry.
  • Black Cottonwood’s reddish resin reduces pain and fever.

Read More About It

Fall Cottonwood Leaves on Water

Oakie – Doakie!

FEATURED NATIVE TREE: Central California OAK/Quercus

photos and write up by Marisa Folse

TREE TWO DATES: Post Selfie Pics April 8th to April 15th This week photos feature not just any Oak tree but Interior Live or Valley Oaks.

Take a selfie with featured tree during this week of April Tree Hunt. Then post it using @guardiansaroundtheearth on Instagram or #OpenYourGATE on Facebook. Post all 4 featured trees (and follow our FB page) to enter raffle on April 30th – Arbor Day.


  • Eight different Oak Tree species natively grow in Kern County of the 20 native to California. Most Oak Trees look similar, some are shrubby like Interior Live Oak and some are majestic like Valley Oak. Leaves, bark, and acorns are different by species. 80% of native Oak woodland in California is privately owned.
  • Oak Trees filter water. A large oak may give off 100 gallons of water a day. A tree takes in twice as much as it evaporates through its leaves. Evaporated tree water eventually forms clean water clouds, then rain, and this cycle renews.
  • All Oak Trees require personal space or physical distancing. Recent Covid-19 experiences gave everyone more awareness of personal space needs for health. Naturally growing trees require more personal space than ones planted from pots. That means, in a natural setting, changes anywhere around a tree as far away as twice its height affect that tree’s health. For this reason, Oak’s biggest threat is residential and commercial development.
  • Some people can innately sense the vibe or aura of certain Oak trees. A few individuals can physically sense the outer boundary of a tree’s personal space. Intuitive children approaching wild trees may stop just outside a trees dripline, sensing some indescribable barrier. Can you sense anything?
  • Most wildfires start by human actions. Luckily, two of California’s Oak Tree types are fire tolerant. Since wildfires occur annually, this makes sense. Blue Oak (Q. douglasii) tolerates grass fires and Englemann Oak tolerates hot forest fires.
Chicken-of-the-woods Mushroom on Black Oak Tree

California’s Oak Woodland Species

  • Blue Oak (Quercus douglasii)
  • California Black Oak (Quercus kelloggii)
  • Canyon Live Oak (Quercus chrysolepis)
  • Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)
  • Engelmann Oak (Quercus engelmannii)
  • Interior Live Oak (Quecus wislizeni) – This evergreen prefers hills, mountains and streams.
  • Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana)
  • Valley Oak (Quercus lobata) – This largest Oak in California can grow over 100 feet and live about 300 years.
Woodpecker damaged Oak


  • Edible acorns, BUT major prep getting bitter, somewhat toxic, tannins out of them.
  • Bark and water solution can tan leather.
  • Oak bark has astringent and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Young branches or branch strips weave into baskets, mats, blinds and other items.

Learn More About It:

Check out these great links –

Arbor Day

By Grace Colbert

Arbor Day: April 30th!

Arbor Day is April 30th, 2021! Each year we take this special day to learn about, appreciate, and give back to trees. It’s a day to take part in your community and get involved with nature. Trees play a huge role in supporting life on Earth, and so we have a special day to celebrate them. 

Many people plant trees on Arbor Day. Planting trees is a great way to help the community and environment! But you can’t plant just any tree anywhere. Trees need the right environment so they can grow the best. Some trees need a hot, dry climate, other trees need colder, wet areas. Use this Right Tree, Right Place guide to help you figure out what tree grows best where you live, and how to do it safely.

After you plant a tree, you still need to take care of it! Like most plants, trees need the right soil, room to grow, good sunlight, and water. Check out this guide  for tips on how much to water and prune your tree to keep it healthy.

Here are other activities you can do this Arbor Day:

Joshing Joshua – Yucca Yucca

Week One Featured Tree: Joshua Tree / Yucca brevifolia by Marisa Folse

Photo by Nathan Moore on


  • Slow Growers: Joshua’s grow only three (3) inches a year for first ten years! That means a yardstick high tree is over 30 YEARS old.
  • Growth slows with age. After first ten years, Joshua trees grow less than 2 inches a year on average. A ten foot tall Yucca Tree is about 80 years old.
  • Joshua tree is home to Wood Rats, Scott’s Orioles, Yucca Moths and other desert dwellers.
  • Ancestral Natives of region used leaves for sandals and basketry.
  • Root system can be shallow and radial like other ancient Cali trees (Giant Sequoia or Redwood).
  • Edible tree parts are Flowers, Seeds, Fruit and Roots. Flower buds are bitter and open flower centers are too. Yet open flowers said to be sweet when roasted. Root, young fruit, and seeds are eaten raw or cooked. Note: Joshua roots are pencil thin and very fibrous, unlike the bulbous Yucca roots found in stores. But in a pinch, one can gnaw on a root for sustenance.

Not So Fun Facts – Joshua’s Climate Challenge

  • ATVs and desert explorers upset these slow growers. Developers simply cut them down.
  • As many forests interconnect underground, surface traffic has negative effect on tree health.
  • Over a million Joshua Trees killed in August 2020 Cima Dome Fire. Altered climate events increased fire vulnerability for Joshua Trees. These burnt and their seedlings will not return.
  • Fewer young yucca trees now exist due to climate change impacts. Drought and higher ambient temperatures are reducing quantity of young Joshua trees.
  • In late 2020, Joshua Tree named and protected as a California Endangered Species. First plant ever listed due to climate impacts.

Take Action

  • Young Joshua trees are now being planting near Cima Dome. Find out more from National Park Service.
  • We at Guardians Around The Earth seek to join the Joshua Tree Genome Project work mapping regional trees. Current sites are along 58 freeway between Sand Canyon and Mojave Exits. Volunteers welcome to join our TreeForce.
Dying Joshua Tree Forest along Oak Creek Road

Read More About It:

Check out these great links

Week 1: Joshua Tree


Joshua trees are native to the Mojave desert in parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. They can’t be found anywhere else in the world! They are very slow growing, and can live to be very old. They are a succulent- a kind of plant that stores water- which helps them survive in very hot, dry environments. They are a rare and special tree, so they are protected from being removed or cut down. Especially as temperatures increase due to climate change, it is becoming harder for Jashua Trees to survive and reproduce. 

How many Joshua trees can you find this week? Tag @GuardiansAroundTheEarth in your selfies!


Celebrating Trees

By Grace Colbert

Why should we celebrate trees?

Take a look outside. Chances are, you can see a tree or two from your window! Trees are essential to life on Earth and are important for both humans and animals. 

Perhaps most importantly, trees give off oxygen through a process called photosynthesis. We need oxygen to live! Trees also give nutrients- or food- to the soil so other plants and trees can continue to grow. Many animals make their homes in trees, like woodpeckers, sloths, and beetles. Humans use the wood from trees to make many everyday products such as wood for building, paper, and even chewing gum! Trees sure give us a lot, so here are some ideas for how we can celebrate and give back to them!

How can we celebrate trees?

How can we give back to trees?

  • Donate/Plant: Planting a tree is a great way to give back and help replace some of the trees humans use to make products. 
  • Preserve: You can help trees in your daily life by being kind and letting them grow. Have you ever seen a tree with words or markings carved into it? Or maybe you’ve seen someone break off a tree branch to use as a walking stick? While it may seem like fun, these actions are harmful to trees. You can do your part and leave them be. Help remind your friends and family to do the same, and together we can protect our trees for years to come. 
  • Volunteer: Join GATE as a volunteer with the Tree Force! GATE identifies trees in need of help and  assigns volunteers to special projects in the Tehachapi area. Projects may include clearing brush, removing dead sections, or cutting constraints from around trees to promote improved growth. 

Top 21 Acts (to do from home) to Conserve Earth!

Yep. you may still be at home and the world is still spinning out there. Here’s a list to make the greatest positive impact on our globe. Some you can do from your couch.

  • Research Your Food. Of coarse, this first one is a couchable act. Pull 5 items you normally buy. Then look up the manufacturer for earth friendly practices. If they are being sued for unsafe disposal or employee unfairness – Change Brands!
  • Start Recycling. Most people support recycling, but do you really DO it? The EPA reported on November 2020 only 32% of Americans recycle. A couchable approach is to find out online exactly what your local trash collector accepts in that recyclable bin. You may be amazed.
  • Recycle More. If you are in USA’s 32% that is doing the deed – Do more. Don’t throw away that can or bottle because of food residue. Put it in the dishwasher, then throw in recycle bin. More items are recyclable now than before. Research new ways to reuse/recycle and find out what else you can put in that bin.
  • Research Your Trash. Since we’re on the subject, where does your trash end up? Yes, this too can be done from your couch. Check out what happens when trash leaves your home by going to company website. Some waste haulers changed tactics as China refused plastic disposal. Where does your local hauler dump, burn or bury?
  • Minimize Plastic Waste. Each year over 8 million metric tons of plastic is dumped in oceans. Microplastic particles are endangering marine life. Check out Earth Day Network to find other ways you can help.
  • Buy Less Packaging. Buy bulk product or choose option that have just the bare minimum non-recyclable packaging. The more packaging you buy the more you need to throw away. That leads to the next action.
  • Avoid individually wrapped ANYTHING. It may have made lunch or travel packing easier but is all that wrapping really useful. If it was for meals, consider investing in a reusable bento box with compartments for food items. If it was for travel, washable travel bags also have easy access easy clean compartments.
  • Voice a Complaint. Do it from your couch. Call and complain about local users of take-out styrofoam containers. Ask manager to change to paper or cardboard take-out options. Call back to see if they took action and praise any positive change.
  • Start a Vegetable Garden. No need for access to open land – use containers. Grow your veggies indoors near a sunny window. Plant only what you will really eat. Change garden plants each season to have fresh food all year long.
  • Create a Community Garden. Call your neighbors to share ideas, seeds, produce and more from doorstep to doorstep.
  • Start a Compost Pile/Bin. A handy addition to any garden, compost can help fertilize what you grow. Also compost is cheaper than store bought fertilizer that may contain unsavory additions to your local earth.
  • Change Toothbrush/Hairbrush to natural or recycled products. Sadly, these items are still packaged in plastic when newly purchased but it is a start.
  • Use Biodegradable Cleaning Products. Read labels of cleaners you now have for kitchen, bathroom and laundry. Is it safe for you, your children, our Earth? Some simple items are extremely effective cleaners such as vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, citrus and thyme. Check out products by Mrs. Meyer’s, Seventh Generation, Simple Green, Method, JR Watkins, ECOS and others.
  • Spay/Neuter Your Pets. Also Trap-Neuter-Return wild community cats for humane care of overpopulation. Feral cats pose biodiversity challenges globally. Nearly 100 MILLION feral, formerly domestic, cats live in the US. Feral cats usually die from starvation, contagious disease or injury. Help them. #DoGood.
  • Join a Clean Up Day. Find a local group or government sponsored effort to clean you region. Volunteer to start small by taking the family out to clean up your block.
  • Start a Cleanup Day. Start a clean up of your neighborhood or a nearby road or highway. Remember Earth Day is Everyday add your clean up to map
  • Look B4U Buy. Check where clothes, housewares and other purchases are made. When shopping online, a couchable act, do a little digging. Find out what the items are made from before purchase. If it is not from a sustainable source don’t buy it.
  • Eat Local. This may seem an odd for Earth act, but it decreases travel pollution and packaging needs. Plus it supports your neighbors and your community. Win-Win.
  • Consciously Buy Food. Find items that are sustainable. Look for labels that state Fair Trade, Rainforest Certified, Dolphin Safe, etc.
  • Plant/Care for a Tree. Trees help minimize carbon pollution. Guardians Around The Earth and nonprofits like us offer ongoing tree support. Donate to our efforts here. Also larger nonprofits like Arbor Day Foundation, One Tree Planted, Trees for the Future and others help reforest our Earth one tree at a time.
  • Donate Time/Funds. Donate your volunteer time or monetary contribution to an Earth friendly nonprofit right now. Give to us at Guardians Around The Earth. Give to others – search online to find an organization you love. Every donation is greatly appreciated.

Share what action you take to conserve Earth. Tell a friend. Post a comment. Share on our project Facebook page. Whatever action you do our Earth will be better for it.

Wildlife Friendly Gardens

National Wildlife Foundation offers the below five steps to Create Wildlife-Friendly Gardens. This post links to their website: to certify your new wildlife habitat. Whether an apartment balcony or a 20-acre farm, a garden that attracts beautiful wildlife helps restore habitat in commercial and residential areas.

Photo by Anna on

Provide Food Planting native forbs, shrubs and trees provides the foliage, nectar, pollen, berries, seeds and nuts that many species of wildlife require to survive and thrive. Incorporating supplemental feeders and food sources also helps. 

 Supply Water Wildlife need clean water sources for many purposes, including drinking, bathing and reproduction. These may include natural features such as ponds, streams and wetlands; or human-made features such as bird baths, puddling areas for butterflies, installed ponds or rain gardens.

Photo by Kittichai Chumanee on

 Create Cover Wildlife require places to hide in order to feel safe from people, predators and inclement weather. Using things in a garden setting like native vegetation, shrubs, thickets and brush piles or even dead trees provides necessary cover.

 Give Wildlife a Place for Young Wildlife need a sheltered place to raise their offspring. Many places for cover can double as locations where wildlife can raise young, from wildflower meadows and bushes where many butterflies and moths lay their eggs, or caves where bats roost and form colonies. 

Photo by Jean van der Meulen on

Let Your Garden Go Green Garden or landscape maintenance can have an important effect on the health of soil, air, water and habitat for native wildlife–as well as the human community nearby. Composting, mulching as well as reducing both turf grass and chemical use are key steps to gardening greener.

Ready…Set…Certify! <<-Click this link once these five essential elements are provided. Join others across the country as part of NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitat™ program.  


Caregiver Quotes

  • Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. ~Lao-Tzu
  • When a parent becomes a grandparent, they are the Guardians of two generations in their family ~Foundation for Grandparenting
  • The lack of emotional security of our American young people is due, I believe, to their isolation from the larger family unit. No two people – no mere father and mother – as I have often said, are enough to provide emotional security for a child. He needs to feel himself one in a world of kinfolk, persons of variety in age and temperament, and yet allied to himself by an indissoluble bond which he cannot break if he could, for nature has welded him into it before he was born. ~Pearl S. Buck
  • Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down. ~Oprah Winfrey
  • Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light. ~Norman B. Rice
  • Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth. ~Mohammed Ali
  • Take action It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference. ~Tom Brokaw
  • Each time someone stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, they sends forth a tiny ripple of hope… and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. ~Robert F. Kennedy
  • ***If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair. Because five minutes at the fair, you’ll be going, ‘you know, we’re alright. We are dang near royalty.’ ~Jeff Foxworthy
  • ***Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. ~Theodore Roosevelt
  • ***When you get in a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. ~Harriott Beecher Stowe
  • ***Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~Leo Buscaglia
  • ***We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark. ~Whoopi Goldberg
  • If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. ~John F. Kennedy
  • Don’t find fault. Find a remedy. ~Henry Ford
  • ***When you want to teach children to think, you begin by treating them seriously when they are little, giving them responsibilities, talking to them candidly, providing privacy and solitude for them, and making them readers and thinkers of significant thoughts from the beginning. That’s if you want to teach them to think. ~Bertrand Russell
  • You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity. ~Barbara de Angelis
  • ***“Some days are diamonds, some days are stone. Some time the hard times won’t leave me alone. Some times the cold winds blow a chill in my bones. Some days are diamonds, some days are stone.” ~recorded by John Denver. Words and music by Dick Feller

Take a Deep Calming Breath

Photo by Kelvin Valerio on

by Bellezza Squillace, GATE Executive Director 07.14.2008

We all get stressed, these days even more. Ever present electrical currents from TV, computer, cell phones, ambient wifi and other sources adds to anxiety. Enjoying time in Nature helps. But sometimes we need to destress right now! Deep breathing helps us refocus and reconnect to what is important in this moment. Here are a few techniques.

Belly Breathing

Place one hand on abdomen below belly button.   Inhale slowly and deeply, feel diaphragm expand lifting your belly hand. Hold full lungs for a few seconds before exhaling.   Exhale while feeling your belly hand descend.

Flowing Breath

Do the above while having other hand on chest.    Feel your heart rate and notice any changes as you breathe.   Concentrate on having your breath fill your lungs and abdomen.   Slowly exhale while concentrating on the flow of air in and out. Concentrate on the conversion of oxygen on the cellular level and its flow through your body.

4 Count Breath

Inhale deeply, while slowly counting to 4.   

Hold for 4 count. Exhale while counting to 4.

Hold for 4 count. Repeat.