We grow ’em big out here

As one of the (blessedly) least developed regions in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sonoma County remains, in some places, more than half-wild, with redwood-forested mountains, grassy valleys and open meadows. We’ve certainly seen plenty of local fauna around: fish in the river, beautiful birds soaring above, mischievous raccoons and coyotes prowling the neighborhood and so many lovely deer roaming the hillsides.

But one day, along the roadside, we spotted a truly unusual specimen that we know to be a one-of-a-kind local native: a giant bee that’s about the size of a small deer. This fun, friendly creature, perched along the highway in downtown Sebastopol greets passersby and visitors alike to the Ceres Project.

(The Ceres Project is a nonprofit providing healthy meals to people in need in an innovative way—an organization which offers another reason to love this area.)

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This huge bee must have bulked up on nectar from all those apple blossoms around in the spring. Or maybe it really likes wine?

Artists Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent created this huge, colorful bee from scrap metal and recycled items like car parts.

Their upcycled “junk art” pops up in many spots around the area, offering glimpses of a whimsical world populated by angular, comically proportioned humans, fantastic creatures like mermaids, and all manner of animals.

One of the most obvious Amiot-Laurent landmarks—and another rare, native creature—is a teardrop camper transformed into a massive yellow duck that sits along the Gravenstein Highway. The oversized avian marks the spot of the artists’ sculpture garden, which you can visit. The quirky character of these artists’ joyful works, which pop up at local restaurants and in residential front gardens alike, strikes us as a perfect example of an only-in-Sonoma-County thing that just makes us love the area even more.

To enjoy more local art, check out this article, which includes links to a map of other Amiot-Laurent works around the area, as well as a link to a sculpture trail featuring outdoor works of art created by other local artists.

Part of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge—Rare

Coming in for a landing

 

Depending on the friends or family who might be with us, how we spend our visits to the Russian River and North Bay can vary, from parent-friendly trips to the casino to kid-friendly strolls in the woods; dog-friendly visits to the beach to wine drinker-friendly stops by local vineyards.

Wine-loving friends, who spend a lot of time in the area themselves, brought us to Lynmar Estate for wine tasting. It’s a sustainable winery located about half an hour’s drive from the house.

The wine we tried was wonderful, but equally impressive was the winery’s beautiful garden, planted with both edible crops and colorful flowers. The garden, like the winery, uses sustainable practices. Certainly this butterfly, headed for a Mexican sunflower, seemed to enjoy the garden—which made us enjoy the garden that much more.

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A Tiger Swallowtail butterfly spots the perfect place to land: a Mexican sunflower in the garden at Lynmar Estate.