Saturday, June 18, 2016

From My Nature Journal: Consider the Lilies

(This is a piece from my old nature journal. It goes nearly ten years back to a June afternoon when the Ridgeline Trail near our Castle Rock home was brand new, an area we had begun exploring well before the trails had been cut.)

Ridgeline Trail
We never anticipated so many.

Gail and I hit Ridgeline Trail today outfitted with gear we had not hiked with there before: a spiral notepad and pen. In the days prior we had noticed an incredible profusion of spring wildflowers in bloom, observing ones newly-opened almost daily. Finally, yesterday, we mused that we should bring paper and pen sometime soon and record how many we see. “There must be twenty-five or thirty,” one of us said. So today we gave ourselves extra time for our regular three-mile loop, and started recording from the moment we left the trailhead. Astonishingly, we had not even gotten off the feeder path before we had already surpassed our imagined number.
Prairie Smoke, one of our favorites
It was quite stunning, a magnificent diversity. In that small distance we counted eighty-four different blooming wildflowers! Eighty-four! And this was a conservative count, especially because we had not the patience this time around to differentiate all the varieties of vetches (at least four) and the plethora of penstemons (at least six); no doubt there were more of these ubiquitous species. Additionally, this count included only those plants near the trail, and only those in bloom – it omitted those more than several yards off the path, as well as tiny groundcovers we may not have seen and those in leaf or bud but not bloom. All told, there would have been far more.

Thirty of the eighty-four blooming species were
shades of yellow, with nineteen purple and
eighteen white; those remaining were various
hues of pink, orange, blue and coral…

Hummingbird moth sipping Thistle
Gail is the wildflower expert between us. (I’m more the tree, rock and sky guy.) She has an uncanny knack for name recall of plants she even rarely sees. “Don’t you remember when we saw this one once several years ago at blobbity-wherezit?” So she ends up having to school me each year even in some common ones I always seem to need to relearn. Even still, many of the names escaped us both (an effort for another day), so those we could not ID we recorded by color, character and leaf shape, so as not to duplicate. Some were so odd as to almost defy description – fern-like, butterfly-shaped, spidery, fringed-clusters,
Paintbrush, Penstemon and Pikes Peak
. And yet others were so common-looking or plain-seeming that we have very likely overlooked them typically – dandelion-like, dandelion-like B, and dandelion-like C. Thirty of the eighty-four blooming species were shades of yellow, interestingly, with nineteen purple and eighteen white; those remaining were various tints of pink, orange, blue and coral. Many species there were that have also been cultivated: wild roses, geraniums, orchids, yarrows, asters, alyssums, clovers, forget-me-nots, daisies, alfalfas, lupines, sunflowers, spiderwort, potentillas, yuccas, sweet peas, larkspurs, wallflowers, paintbrushes, flaxes and phloxes. There were even wild onions, plums, currants and cherries. But those undomesticated, at least to our knowledge, were also well-represented: arnicas, mallows, other worts, harebells, fairy trumpets, dogbanes, thistles, prairie smoke, holly, knapweeds, prickly poppy, banner flower, cacti, and who-knows-what-else. Yet there they all were, every one of them in their created glory.

Mariposa Lily, another favorite
Hmmm… Glory... That’s what it was, inestimable beauty, even regal, exceeding the splendor of a king.

Jesus said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, you of so little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30)

Oh, the depth of the riches… of God! How… unfathomable are His ways!  (Romans 11:33)

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:7)

~~ RGM, from an early journal entry,
Adapted for my blog May 22, 2016

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