January in California always amazes me. Right now in most of the rest of the country, any vegetation is brown or grey. However, in California, the ground responds almost instantly to rain, and we've had a lot of it this year, which means the hillsides are already a beautiful velvet green. That also means poppies aren't far behind.
There's actually a state poppy preserve, named (appropriately) the Antelope Valley California Poppy State Reserve. From February through May, the poppies bloom profusely, although some years are better than others. It is worth a drive from any reasonable distance to visit this place, if you ever get the chance. Think the poppy fields in the Wizard of Oz (although those aren't the same kind of poppies), and you have an idea of how vast these fields of poppies (and other wildflowers) can be. One year, when the flowers were particularly profuse, I went twice in a three day period, driving a couple of hours each way, just to look in amazement. It's both awe-inspiring and a little depressing to look out over these fields of flowers. Awe-inspiring because of what nature can do. Depressing to imagine that this is what the state of California must have looked like from top to bottom, before it was loved to death by waves of searchers, seeking fame and fortune and freedom by coming west.