God’s Garden

Wildflower hunting was one of the stated intentions of this hike. Nevertheless, I was overwhelmed by the number of little gems that we saw and had never expected to see this many. It seemed as if my whole field guide was spread out and blooming. Flowers I’d never seen before, except in my field guide, were in full bloom, and others that I did know grew in quantities I’d never seen! It was truly stunning. There was absolutely no shortage of wildflowers in the burn area of the Legion Lake Fire. Rather, they were particularly abundant and spectacular. Prickly pear and barrel cacti were also quite abundant, which was some cause for concern: I’ve been accused of “crawling around on the ground” to take pictures of wildflowers. But one encounter with spines today was enough to make me much more cautious, so after that I was careful to look before kneeling down.

IMG_6433eWhite crazyweed – Oxytropis sericea

IMG_6415eTufted milkvetch – Astragalus spatulatus

IMG_6394eDesert biscuitroot – Lomatium foeniculaceum

IMG_6384eNarrowleaf gromwell – Lithospermum incisum

IMG_6380eMeadow deathcamas – Zigadenum venenosus

IMG_6377eMissouri pincushion – Coryphantha missouriensis

IMG_6354eLow larkspur – Delphinium bicolor

IMG_6323eDarkthroat shootingstar – Dodecatheon pulchellum

IMG_6315eHood’s phlox – Phlox hoodii

IMG_6314eDowny paintbrush – Castilleja sessiliflora

IMG_6304ePrairie smoke – Geum triflorum

IMG_6299eSmall-leaf pussytoes – Antennaria parvifolia

IMG_6293eeMountain blue-eyed grass – Sisyrinchium montanum

IMG_6283eWestern wallflower – Erysimum asperum

IMG_6278eNuttall’s violet – Viola nuttallii

Other flowers not shown here were the star lily, leafy phlox, prairie golden pea, various milkvetches and legumes, including the groundplum milkvetch (a favorite of mine, with an edible bean), yellow salsify, and a number of others. A beautiful afternoon to stroll in God’s Garden.

 

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Happy April!

How suddenly the winter retreats peacefully into the shadows, places where the snow lingers a little longer and the chill hovers, while springtime appears with vigor and color and sweetness. Everywhere, new life is appearing. Tiny calves speckle the pastures, birds are singing lustily, and branches and twigs are showing green. Underfoot, flower life is waking, spreading their petals to the sunlight, drinking in the rain, little gems in the layers of pine needles and dead grass. First is the pasque, and then the rest follow.
IMG_5006eI’m reminded of these verses from Song of Solomon:

The flowers appear in the earth: the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.”

The signs of spring are plainly written. We smell the clean, rain-washed air, hear the droplets pattering on the roof, feel them on our faces, hear the birds singing in the trees. We have the pasque flowers on the sunlit hills. Flocks of sandhill cranes in the sky mark the beginning of April, a new sight for me. Spring is here.

Happy April!

Botanical | Pasque flower

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Pasque flower

The lovely state flower of South Dakota.

Botanical | Easter Daisy

Appropriately, I found this flower on Resurrection Day!

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Easter Daisy

Saturday Adventures

The Pringle PlaceThe winds sound different in the pines. They hum and murmur and sing in the needles and in the sun-warmed grass, sweeping clouds from horizon to horizon, drying the earth and warming the earth and waking up all the little messengers of springtime. The earth feels different in the springtime, ready to burst with life, like a person holding back mirth, or like someone with a delightful secret. Tiny plants push through the red soil, little barrel cacti and the elusive pasque flower and star lilies not yet bloomed.

IMG_8921Any excuse to get down to the Pringle place is a good one for me, and today’s excuse was that my cousin Ben was down in Pringle with my aunt and uncle, and I was already going to be in Custer this morning, which is more than halfway there. So after cleaning the church, Roy and I drove down to Pringle – I, armed with my camera, Roy armed with various muskets and pistols – and picked up Ben for a hike.  We couldn’t have picked a better day than the one our Heavenly Father had picked for us.

IMG_8909Our hiking took us along Box Canyon, and down west of the old stage stop, through red gullies and golden meadows, in and out of deep-cut ravines, over and under barbed wire fencing, looking at the favorite places and searching out new. We stumbled across the remains of an ancient log cabin from the homesteading days, found a piece of a rusty old license plate from 1922 and an old stove lid, and picked up a rusted steel trap that must have washed down the gully, or been dragged there.

All the little early wildflowers are beginning to bloom, giving me fresh subjects to capture and identify, from little phlox-like flowers growing low to the red earth, to scrubby yellow complex flowers with foliage that smelled like celery, to a yellow succulent-like flower growing all by itself on a little hillside.
IMG_8897And yes, we found the pasque flowers today! A week ago down on the Pringle place, the little wind flowers were waking up, though were not yet awake, but today they were in beautiful bloom, tucked beneath scrubby pines, nestled down deep in last summer’s grasses.  Whimsical nodding blossoms of palest purple, covered with their coats of silver fur, blending in and almost invisible, but unmistakable. Pasque flowerGrasshoppers chirruped. Mountain bluebirds flickered like blue flames as they lighted on fence posts and fence wire and darted here and there. The junipers and pines were spicy in the warm air, the sky was brilliant and dappled with clouds, the wind was sweet and restless, and the rocks were cool to the touch. Lichens crusted the red stone, quartz sparkled dazzlingly, and the day was perfect.

IMG_8931We picnicked on the tailgate of Roy’s pickup, and when we were done hiking, we did some target shooting. “Shooting makes a bad day good and a good day better,” Roy said. Though, it hardly needed improving – Friends and family, God’s good and glorious creation, a sturdy camera, a picnic in the open air, and the sight of a small herd of antelope hightailing it across the prairie – And, yes, firing a few rounds at some makeshift targets.

A good day. A very good day.

Laura Elizabeth

 

 

Findings | Winter Pods

The subtle beauty of winter.
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Little treasures on a winter walk.

Laura Elizabeth