Pasqueflower Gallery

Check out my new gallery of pasqueflower photos!
IMG_4499eI’ve been taking pictures of pasques for a few years now, so I decided it was a good time (with a winter storm flurrying outside) to compile a gallery of my favorites from over the years. Enjoy!

 

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Signs of Spring

For about the last week, we’ve all been bracing for a spring storm, which rolled into the area in the early morning hours today. Schools and businesses are closed, parts of I-90 are closing,  and everyone has hunkered down to wait out what is supposed to be a brutal spring snowstorm. We’ll see if it meets with expectations. But yesterday was the calm before the storm. We had warm temperatures, gentle breezes in the morning, overcast skies. It was hard to imagine a winter storm was on the heels of the springlike weather. I had some free time in between a doctor’s appointment and my first piano lessons, so I zipped on over to Buzzard’s Roost, a hiking and mountain biking area about 7 miles outside of Rapid City. And I knew from last year it is a great spot for pasque flowers.
IMG_4735eIMG_4686eIMG_4707eIMG_4700eIMG_4698eSpring is here. Winter is just reluctant to head out the door.

The Hunt for Spring

The hunt began a week ago. I prowled around a certain hilltop about a mile’s hike from my house, a certain spot for pasque flowers. They grew there in abundance last spring, and I just knew I’d find them there again this year. The first two hunts, in spite of the warm weather, turned up nothing. But today, in spite of the snow and fog and freezing temps, turned up tiny, fuzzy, baby pasque flowers. They were nestled in beds of pine needles, almost invisible. I gently untucked them, took a few pictures, and re-tucked them in.  They stood probably about an inch and a half high, or less.
IMG_4158ecIMG_4149eIMG_4129ec“Just one, LORD,” I had prayed, smiling, wading through last years grasses, following deer trails up one hill and another, through clearings and stands of snow-covered juniper and pine to get to my hill. “Let me find just one.”

He let me find four.

 

Slow Rain and Relics

The sun and blue sky of Sunday morning had turned into lowering clouds. The sound of raindrops began to hush around us as we followed an old forest service road towards our destination. Before long at all, everyone else was far ahead and out of sight, while I was hunkered down in the wet grass and pine needles taking pictures of spring’s first flowers. What sweetness! We had temperatures in the 40s, and those of us who had properly layered were plenty warm, even with the gentle rain.IMG_5097eWe were hiking in an area of past burn, south and east of Pringle a couple of miles. Before the trail wove down into a valley, distant hilltops could be seen glowing gently under the grey sky, and even scattered blue sky could be seen off to the south east. We saw ample evidence of elk, but not a glimpse of the majestic creatures themselves. No deer, few birds – It was quiet out in the woods. But in amongst the fallen trees and blackened stumps, the purple of pasque flowers could be seen. Life from death. Beauty from ashes. In areas of previous devastating fire, new life springs up with determination.IMG_5059eThe trail took us to the historical remains we had hoped to find. Old foundations, remnants of walls and chimneys, a water pump, a tumbled-in root cellar, sparkling pieces of colored glass, shards of rusted metal, miscellaneous kitchen items, ancient stoves, door knobs, coffee cans – All relics of the homestead or town site that once stood there and the lives that had previously been lived there. We don’t know its name, or who lived there, or whom they knew, or what they did, or where they came from, but someone had a life in that beautiful little valley. What will I leave behind when I’m gone? It is an interesting thought.IMG_5113eIMG_5105eThe raindrops plinked and pattered on a heap of twisted metal, sounding like the rush of a distant, faraway stream. We poked around in the ruins, and could have spent a lot longer there. We only left reluctantly when we figured we should catch up with the rest of the group, who had already gone back to the truck to keep from getting wetter. IMG_5132eIMG_5129The rain picked up, but that hardly mattered. It is spring, and rain is expected! Sarah pointed out how vivid the colors are in the rain, and she is right. It’s as if the rain washes away a layer of dust, leaving everything clean and fresh with the color plainly seen.IMG_5146eIMG_5173eTime and again we extend our Sunday fellowship through the afternoon with hiking. And time and again, I think how perfect a way that is to end a Sunday. Spending time in God’s glorious creation is refreshing any day of the week, but there is something fitting about it on a Sunday – it seems to me that we are in a way extending the sanctuary of worship into the broader realm of His created handiwork. His handiwork and His attributes are proclaimed in the beauty of the landscape, the intricacies of flowers and plant and animal life, the perfect way this earth holds together and flourishes year after year and century after century. When we marvel at and revel in the natural world, we are marveling at and reveling in the works of God’s hands. What a privilege. IMG_5174eWe headed home in a slow drizzle and stopped at Three Forks to get coffee. Beautiful weather. A beautiful day.

 

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!

Springtime Treasures

The Black Hills are full to bursting of treasure, if one knows where to search for it. I waited so eagerly for the pasque flowers to bloom, springtime’s first flowers, and they finally have. What a delight! They are such ephemeral and elusive flowers, springing up while winter still lingers in the Hills, and fading again in a breath – Perhaps that is some of the excitement surrounding these little flowers. There is a sense of urgency in the hunt.  The silk-like hairs sparkled on stem and petal, and the flowers nodded in the breeze, glimmering like stained glass in the sunlight on their carpet of pine needles. We found them up at Buzzard’s Roost this morning, scarce along the trail but plentiful as we neared the lookout. Amazing how these delicate plants can establish themselves so firmly on the rocky, barren hillsides, fighting their way to the sunlight. IMG_4507eIMG_4620eIMG_4575eIMG_4499eIMG_4519eIMG_4568eI could have taken pictures of the little things for hours.