Monday, December 2, 2013

Last Gasp

Botanizing in Wyoming in December.  Click on photo -- you might see flowers.
We’re still holding on, a few wildflowers and I.  Others think the growing season is over, but we’re making the most of what we yet may spend, before we too into the bitter cold descend ... to paraphrase Omar Khayyám (verse XXIV).
White or Hood’s phlox, Phlox hoodii.
White phlox is one of the earliest wildflowers in spring, so why is it blooming now?!  Maybe it’s been fooled by mild short days that feel like spring.  But the days are getting shorter not longer; did it not notice this trend in photoperiod?  Perhaps white phlox simply blooms sometimes in fall for no real “reason” ... and I’ve never noticed ’til now.

Then I caught a “flash” of yellow ... a bladderpod flower (Lesquerella sp.).
A bladderpod in bloom, left of dog paw.
Click on photo to see buds and a flower.
Here's a showier one.
These are hardly spectacular displays but I'm enjoying them nonetheless because they're probably the last.  The forecast is grim.  An arctic air mass led by a snowstorm is approaching.  It's due to arrive Tuesday evening ...
... with a low of -19º F Wednesday night!
The first bitter cold of the season always arouses what feels like a primeval fear.  We can’t possibly survive!  We have only our thin clothing and it will be six months before anything edible grows.  We live in sagebrush and grass, how will we ever heat our pitiful shelters?  Then off to the west I see the steady flow of food- and fuel-bearing trucks on Interstate 80 and calm down.  Surely we’ll make it through another winter, so let's bundle up and enjoy the beauty ...
... like the ice flowers and frost ferns that thrive on the coldest days.

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