California has a very brief spring, when the grass on the hills is actually green, after the winter rains, rather than its more usual brown and gold. And right now, the green hills are dusted with tall spindles in brilliant yellow, as though a landscape painter has scumbled a bright cadmium across them. It's mustard.
The story goes that as the Franciscans built the California missions, they marked the route between them by tossing mustard seed along the path. So when I see a hillside of mustard, sometimes I see a man in a dark habit, tossing the seeds along his way. Now of course there is mustard everywhere.
The padres of the missions were often harsh and even brutal to the native population. But that's all in history now, and we have bright yellow mustard reaching upwards to tell us that it's spring, and time for renewal.