• Emily

The First Tapestry

Updated: Mar 24


Grass Widow blooms

I am continually amazed by the life and beauty that springs forth from a seemingly dead landscape. Even before the last vestiges of winter have melted away, sprigs of white-flecked Salt-and-pepper Desert Parsley (lomatium germanii) begin pushing past the mud and slim stalks of Grass Widows (sisyrinchium inflatum) reach for the sky.


Salt-and-Pepper Desert Parsley blooms

The first flush of spring on the shrub steppe is not hesitant or shrinking. Color bursts out in many forms. These flowers are more delicate than those that will follow them. Their vivid petals cup droplets from spring rain. Their roots tuck into mosses that cling to basalt boulders. Most of these flowers will have a brief lifespan--blooming and quickly setting seed before the moisture is gone--but they make the most of their time.


Fern-leaved Desert Parsley (lomatium dissectum)--also called “Chocolate Tips” for its dark purple-brown buds--is one of the first to make an appearance. It quickly unfurls into rich purple blooms and dusty green foliage.


Chocolate Tips blooms

On sun-catching slopes, Sagebrush Buttercups (Ranunculus glaberrimus) cluster in the crevasses of rocks and peek out from between gnarled stalks of sagebrush.


Sagebrush Buttercup blooms

Sagebrush Buttercup blooms

Gold Stars (Crocidium multicaule) and Cascade Onions (Allium cratericola) scatter across gravelly mounds where winter’s frost has heaved the earth. They thrive on the harshest slopes where water drains away and soil quickly turns to blowing dust.


Gold Star blooms

Cascade Onion blooms

Gold Star and Cascade Onion blooms

In the hearts of sagebrush, Yellow Bells (Fritillaria pudica) and Sagebrush Violets (Viola trinervata) find shelter from the wind. They are also tucked in at the base of bluffs and down the slopes to the valley below.


a Sagebrush Violet bloom

a Yellow Bell bloom

Under sheltering oaks, just waking from winter, Bulblet Woodland Stars (Lithophragma bulbiferum) nod and bounce in the breeze.


a Bulblet Woodland Star bloom

This first tapestry will soon give way to another, and all traces of most of them will disappear. They will be quietly waiting beneath the soil for another spring to call them forth.


The very fleetingness of this first flush makes me attend. If they bloomed all year, I would probably stop noticing them, walk past them, forget their beauty. How many times do I walk past the everyday wonders that are given to me simply because I have become habituated to them? May these miracles of spring remind me to attend to every good and perfect gift that is given.


a Sagebrush Violet wildflower

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