Blog California

Summer’s end. Also, mountain lions.

September 15, 2021

Yesterday, my neighbor told me there’s a rampaging mountain lion in our area. Well, not rampaging exactly, just causing some trouble for a few of the neighbors, but he likes us to be cautious.

Mountain lions aren’t really a danger to people, especially when there are so many deer around. Because they do occasionally take a jogger or someone’s kid, though, it’s smart to just be aware of your surroundings. So, last night I sat my kids down and said, “Tom wanted me to let you guys know that there’s a mountain lion in the area that’s been eating people …… ’s goats.

Hey, they’re teenagers so you have to get their attention somehow.

Anyway, now my youngest thinks every deer that bounds off when he opens the front door might have actually been a mountain lion, so it totally worked.

Just for fun, here are some trail cam shots of the mountain lion that passed through our neighborhood a few years ago:

This mountain lion was about 75 feet from our house and is also the reason why my cat isn’t allowed outside.

I wasn’t actually going to just talk about mountain lions today though. I also wanted to talk about apples.

Our favorite end-of-summer destination is Apple Hill in Placerville, CA. It’s also a great place for pumpkins and Christmas trees, but we go there for the apples. Traditionally, the kids pick way too many, I cringe when I discover how much money it’s going to cost and then I spend the next week desperately trying to figure out how to use up like four billion apples. This year the lady manning the fruit stand even felt sorry for me and gave me a free jar of strawberry lemonade jam.

Hot tip: Sloan Winters Mountain Orchard has the best u-pick at Apple Hill. They have apples and pears, sometimes even vegetables, and everything is delicious. Also, you get a hayride out to the orchard. Just want to plug them, you know, ’cause of the free jar of jam.

If only I’d noticed the big, ugly, blemish on that apple before I took this otherwise lovely photograph.

Anyway here’s a fun fact: If you plant a seed from a red delicious apple, you will not get a tree that produces red delicious apples. Which is fine, really, because red delicious apples suck so why would you even want to plant one in the first place … but more to the point, apples don’t self-pollinate and in fact they have a built-in system for making sure they can’t be pollinated by apples that are genetically similar to themselves.

This is great for the apple trees because it helps them avoid all kinds of problems that might happen when your gene pool is too shallow. It’s bad for us, though, because the apples you get after you’ve spent years carefully tending the tree that grew from your fruit stand apple are probably going to be tiny, tasteless, horrible things like the ones on the weird, random apple tree that grows on my road that literally no one ever picks the apples from.

If that boggled your mind, here’s a SciShow episode about apple genetics. Note that although I didn’t write this particular SciShow episode, all SciShow episodes are good.