Wildflowers and Weather

In a 24-hour period over April 27-28 the weather gods overseeing Idaho’s central mountains served up a smorgasbord of offerings for our enjoyment. Rain, sun, wind, thunder and lightning, and after the storm passed and the clouds parted, a stunning sunset ushering in clear skies and night stars followed by a new day of birdsong and fog broken by morning sunlight through the forest’s trees.

In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.

Mark Twain

Spring has arrived in the mountains. Twain understood.

Monday morning, April 27th, I awoke to a pattern of rain-drizzle-rain that nixed my plans for a run with the dogs in the forest. Which is ironic, given I was born and raised in Seattle, spending most of my first 50 years there heading out for runs in the rain because otherwise one wouldn’t run much, or do anything outside. You simply dressed for the weather and sucked it up.

Moving to Idaho changed that approach. I quickly learned that rain is not common, and if one simply waits a few hours, a day at most, it will be dry again. The weather here is changeable.

My dogs, though, don’t buy into such fine distinctions. Wait? They want to head out every morning, weather be damned.

Yesterday I caved to their entreaties by lunch time. We headed up into the forest for a walk about 1:00 pm, a fine drizzle falling, hardly noticeable. (I don’t enjoy running late in the day; if I don’t run first thing in the morning, I skip it and instead walk if I head out.)

What was noticeable, however, were the early wildflowers, bringing color and joy to the landscape. Just a few, some quite small, all a hint and promise of larger blooms to come.

wildflowers
Wild parsley.
wildflower and insect
Sunflower (arrowleaf balsomroot) with a bee visitor.
wildflower
Waterleaf ballhead.
Avalanche lilies.
Indian paintbrush, just starting to bloom.
wildflower
Goosefoot yellow violet.
Tiny lanceleaf springbeauty.

I’m so glad we ventured out, despite the drizzle/rain. A reminder that time spent in nature is never wasted.

Now every field is clothed with grass, and every tree with leaves; now the woods put forth their blossoms, and the year assumes its gay attire.

Virgil

Since moving to Idaho’s mountains I’ve taken a keen interest in the native wildflowers, learning their names, when and where to anticipate their appearance. It’s hard to explain the joy I derive from spotting and photographing them each spring. It never gets old.

The arbutus is now open everywhere in the woods and groves. How pleasant it is to meet the same flowers year after year! If the blossoms were liable to change–if they were to become capricious and irregular–they might excite more surprise, more curiosity, but we should love them less; they might be just as bright, and gay, and fragrant under other forms, but they would not be the violets, and squirrel-cups, and ground laurels we loved last year. Whatever your roving fancies may say, there is a virtue in constancy which has a reward above all that fickle change can bestow, giving strength and purity to every affection of life, and even throwing additional grace about the flowers which bloom in our native fields. We admire the strange and brilliant plant of the green-house, but we love most the simple flowers we have loved of old, which have bloomed many a spring, through rain and sunshine, on our native soil.

Susan Fenimore Cooper

That evening the weather stirred ominously. Dark clouds moved in from the north, the sort of dark steel gray, almost black color that presages thunder and lightning. The wind picked up, gusts pushing the pine tree branches near my house into wild gyrations. Soon the storm parked overhead. First it threw both sheet and bolt lightning at the earth – visible through my home office window – each flash quickly followed by long, deep rumbles echoing through the valley.

Conall doesn’t let lightning and thunder stop him from vole hunting. At about 28 seconds there was a flash of lightning that the video didn’t capture, but Conall noticed and he moves toward me as the thunder rumbles and the rain starts to fall.

Why do I love that sound so much? It’s so…primal. Elemental. A reminder how awesome nature is, how puny and vulnerable we are.

As a coda to its fury, the storm let loose a torrent of rain and hail with its final rumbles, a gully-washing downpour that lasted about ten minutes. I watched two deer cross my lot as the rain and hail flowed from the clouds. They moved casually, not reacting to the thunder. One paused briefly to shake the rain off her coat – first her body twisted quickly, then her head, the opposite of how a dog shakes. I’ve never seen that before, and for some reason it struck me as profound and poetic, yet another quiet aspect of the natural world around me.

And then the storm was done. The wind died, the rain/hail ended, and the clouds parted to reveal the sun working its way toward the horizon. The literal calm after the storm. The dogs – Finn in particular – breathed a sign of relief and came back outside. The storm’s speed from start to finish was dizzying and – for me at least – thrilling.

The aftermath – the sunset – was stunning.

sunset
Right after the storm passed.
sunset
And later, the sun tossing some color in the sky in its final farewell.

This morning nature offered more stunning scenery. The sky was clear overnight, songbirds woke me at daybreak, the early sun and the forest beckoned.

So the boys and I went for a run. As often happens, the valley and my house were shrouded in morning fog, but I knew that just a bit higher up in elevation it was likely to be clear, above the fog layer. We drove up into the forest and started running, enjoying a mix of fog, sun, snow and dirt. I spotted my first trillium.

sunlight through trees
Early morning sun breaking through the trees and light fog, almost begging me to follow it to some magical, other-worldly place.
sun, trees, dogs, snow
Following the boys over a patch of snow as the morning sun breaks through the trees and fog.
forest, wildflowers
A hillside covered in avalanche lilies.
trees, fog, mountains
Tendrils of fog in the trees and a thick layer shrouding the valley below, mountain peaks rising above in the distance.
wildflower
Trillium, kissed by rain and fog, nurtured by fallen pine needles.

No matter how chaotic it is, wildflowers will still spring up in the middle of nowhere.

Sheryl Crow

Worth remembering.

These are the small things that ground me. Nature in all her glory: changing seasons and weather, trees, wildflowers, sun, wind, clouds, thunder, bird song, wildlife, dirt, snow. All of it. And dogs. Running with dogs in the forest.

20 thoughts on “Wildflowers and Weather”

    1. Thanks, Fred! I have fun with it 🙂
      You can keep your 98F weather! I melt when it’s over 70F, which is why I’m a dedicated morning person 🙂 And I do the same as you – head higher for cooler temps.
      I wish poppies were among the native wildflowers here; I love them and remember seeing fields of them in California years ago. I’ve had minimal success growing them in my wildflower garden at the house.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Much as I love snow, I don’t love it in late spring. Hope your blooms arrive soon. It’s not unusual to get a bit of snow here even in May. The forest wildflowers seem able to handle it, but the nursery flowers I planted in my deck pots yesterday will complain if it happens!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “Lovely rapture over the advent of that noxious season into which no snow falls.”

    “BEAR! Get off my lap top.”

    Why did I teach that dog to type?

    Beautiful photos! Our high country is still snow covered, mostly. The bears are hungry. Down here the rattlers are also hungry. This is the hungry season, as it was for humans before canning and refrigeration… This is the season for evening rambles around the local high school which the dogs love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Bear, that’s quite the vocabulary you have 🙂
      Thanks! I’m an accidental photographer, just shoot what grabs my eye when I’m out and about, and sometimes that ends up being something worthy of sharing.
      Hungry season. You’re right. Thankfully no rattlers up here, but plenty of black bear. Finn thinks they’re fun to chase. Conall and I strongly disagree.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Peter; high praise, coming from you!
      I imagine your moths, butterflies and insects go into hiding when it’s raining, but at least you’ll still have flowers to photograph until the sunshine returns!

      Liked by 1 person

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