Wild Sweet Peas in the Vineyard, and a Painting

As His Grace and I left the ranch last Friday for New York and parts East for a few weeks, I felt a twinge for the days of early spring I will miss there. Here’s an idea:

Oak Savanna Vineyard at Rancho La Zaca
As the vineyard at Rancho La Zaca begins to green, wildflowers peek up through the grasses.

Surely these wild sweet peas came last year, but dawg if I remember them. That’s the thing about wildflowers, you never know. There’ll be a million of ’em one year and zero the next. We have to celebrate the moment.

[Update 6/19/14 – In revisiting this post, I have a quick correction: The plants are not volunteers, after all. They are fava beans and yes, peas, planted to ameliorate the soil with nitrogen and other things grapes like. Thanks to readers who’ve lived here a lot longer than I have, and to my finally getting to asking our vineyard manager about it. Learning, learning every day. :)]

Wild sweet peas in Oak Savanna Vineyard at RLZ
Wild sweet peas and a lupin-like white flower I need to look up…
Wild sweet peas in Oak Savanna Vineyard at RLZ
The white flower I can’t identify. A nickel to whomever provides the first correct answer…

And just for fun, the day before we left, I painted  a view from the road on the way to the barn. You can see the mist from the ocean about 15 miles away, and in the tree branches and grasses the bright yellow-green shoots of new growth.  Spring! New life!

View toward the ocean from Rancho La Zaca
View toward the ocean from Rancho La Zaca
View toward the ocean from Rancho La Zaca, by Frances Schultz
View toward the ocean from Rancho La Zaca, by me.
View toward the ocean from Rancho La Zaca
Another photo, by professional artist and teacher Camille Deller. She included more of the foreground than I did.

And just for fun again, I threw a few seeds in the ground to see what would happen. I’ll keep you posted. The picture is upside down for good luck. (And because I can’t figure out how to right it without doing the whole thing over, and you know how lazy I am.)

Wildflower seed packets
Packets full of promise, and poppies and lupin. Upside down for good luck.


  1. Frances, I’m so impressed by your paintings — each one is more lovely than the one before it. I think that you should paint that scene of the vineyard with wild flowers poking through the grasses. It has the feel of Cezanne. Have a great trip East and keep the blogs coming.

    1. Oh Emily, thank you. And I might take you up on that scene of the tree and vineyard. Happy Easter, Frances

  2. Frances, I don’t know how you remain so positive all of the time! You are a wonder and an inspiration. You must not read any newspapers or get involved in politics. Wish I could emulate you more as I am becoming a very grumpy woman. Each of your posts is marvelous. Thank you!

    1. Dear Nancy, thank you so much for your kind words and for taking the time to write. I have looked forward to having the time to respond to you, and now I can. In fact you have inspired me, and I thank you for that, too. The short answer to your question about staying positive is that it is a choice, and that what we focus on grows within us and around us, and that our thoughts eventually define us. (By the way, lest I sound sanctimonious, I fail miserably at times. Just yesterday, for example, I made Eeyore himself look like Chuckles the Clown.) There is an old American Indian story I often think of, maybe you know it, about the two wolves fighting within us and the one that wins is the one we feed. The story does not pertain directly, but I think the analogy works: Hateful wolf/loving wolf – Positive wolf/negative wolf. Here’s a version: A young boy told his grandfather of his anger at a schoolmate who had done him an injustice. Grandfather said: “Let me tell you a story.” “I, too, have felt hate for those who have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times. It is as if there are two wolves inside me: one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way. But the other wolf is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights with everyone, all the time, for no reason. It is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of then try to dominate my spirit.” The boy looked into his grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?” The grandfather replied, “The one I feed.” Love, Frances

  3. GORGEOUS painting! So sorry we were unable to connect while we were both in town. Next visit? In the meantime, safe and fun travels (that I hope include a visit to Bee Cottage!).

  4. Frances,
    Such fun living vicariously through your most entertaining and informative blogs. Got “hooked” through dear friend Gayle Alston. Anyhoo, spring has sprung about a month early up here in Highlands, NC, and leaving for Atlanta for the Easter weekend is killing me because every day in the yard is a new awakening that I hate to miss!! Altho I have tried several times the packets of wildflowers specifically for the Southeast, the seeds don’t especially love where I haphazardly sow them–but I have a sneaking suspicion that Harrison’s weed-eater is part of the problem! Thus, we rely on Mother Nature’s glorious display of wildflowers, and our favorite hikes are in May–especially for woodland “viewings,” but we’ll have to go earlier this year.

  5. Frances,
    Your painting makes me know we need to get out west again and soon. You are a great artist, I do think..layers of mountains you captured and the last of winter and earliest spring is quite beautiful and you are sure able at putting it on canvas.
    most cheerfully,
    Lynn Ziglar

  6. I love your painting of that view! It does not look like your usual water color, did you use oil or acrylic? Great textures!!!xCarol Ann

    1. Hey Carol Ann! Thank you so much, and you are right, I’m using oils. Hope to see you soon, xo, Frances

  7. Your painting is full of soul. The photographs are also beautifully captivating. You are certainly leaving some great beauty at the vineyard, but hopefully the trade for spring rites where you are going will have their own rewarding beauty!

  8. Love your painting. We need to record these beautiful times in this valley. i had not focussed
    on the wild sweet peas in the vineyard rows but you are so right to bring them into close view before they are turned under for mulch— much later happily. Sorry you will be away for Easter but we will think of you as we praise God for all the beauty that surrounds us and never fails.

    1. Annie and Stephanie, thank you for sorting me out. Annie does indeed win a nickel and it is on the way to her in today’s mail.

      Annie, Please let us know What you will do with it all.

      On a separate note, Stephanie, the feedback on your pasta recipe has been amazing. People are raving about it on and off-line. Readers, in case you missed, here’s the link: Possibly the Best Pasta Ever.

    2. Duh, I don’t know why I didn’t think to do this before, but I just asked vineyard manager Felipe Hernandez about the sweet peas and fava beans. He told me yes indeed they are planted, but not the edible kind. They are plowed back into the earth to provide nitrogen for the grapes. I love it when beauty and practicality come together like that, don’t you?

  9. Frances, if you paint that scene of the vineyard, I’m putting in my bid. Love the sketches you posted today. I’m of the age where room design has become my porn. Happy Easter!

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