Superbloom Death Valley
Wildflower Peepers Delight
Roadside extravaganza. Desert floribunda. Botany bloomfest. Superbloom Death Valley is on again as wildflowers sprinkle and spread a dramatic carpet of colours in one of the bleakest places on earth.
Death Valley is having a flower show? Unpredictable and even more rare, this floral showing is wilder than just wildflowers. Once a century, and recently with El Nino, once a decade, a wildflower extravaganza hits the dismal emptiness of this valley turning a typically hostile environment into a flower festival.
Less than occasionally and sometimes once in a century Death Valley gets more than it’s allotted four trickles a year in rainfall. AND a critical amount splatters the blistered desert in the fall. Wildflower seeds wait for decades for enough moisture to wash off their outer coating allowing germination to perform nature’s magic. The following spring, after a lot of hope and anticipation that this year will be The Big One, Mother Nature nods in approval and the valley turns into a superific extravaganza of colour. Superbloom Death Valley explodes continuously for weeks as the seed to flower to seed cycle progresses from floor (sea level) to ceiling (mountains over 5000 feet) across and up and down this typically barren landscape. With climate change and wet events like El Nino, “normal” is uncommon, and for the second time this century, a “once in a century event” has imploded again.
Everywhere. Watch your step! Please do not step on the desert sunflowers. They are responsible for the entire desert floor taking on a sunshiney yellow hue.
Missing the 2005 Superbloom Death Valley meant a chance of the century passed you by. But last fall the rain gods descended on the desert seeds again with another superbloom. If you miss it you may have to wait another century or a lifetime or maybe just a decade this time.
For more on fragile places and California spring, see also:
Black and White Winter
Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Alberta
Monochrome and a nature park do not always dance together. But sometimes the palette begs it. Take black and white Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park (west of Calgary, Alberta), toss in a fresh dusting of snowfall and the prairie paradise is dressed in it’s grey scale finest. There are trails to discover so don your booties and venture into the black and white world of western Canada’s best.
Meditate on your surroundings and drink in the cold season’s best. Lily Loop will not disappoint as the poplar boughs bend to frame your route. While heading down the drifting path, other sets of eyes may be on you so pay attention if only for the pleasure of sighting wildlife curious about you. It is not every day you are so popular. Moose would be rare in these parts but Mule Deer or White-tails often venture to the edge of a human encounter. And coyotes are always watching.
Fence lines defining natures’ borderless panorama. Meandering trails lure your athletic prowess with deer springing across the landscape, anywhere and everywhere, and spooky poplars with fingers grabbing the sky. And possibly you. All awaits your inquisitive wonder.
Mind the slippery ramble back up the hill to wind up your adventure. All roads lead up at Glenbow park. Before departure, be sure to amble your eyes west, drink in the Rocky Mountains creeping up behind the foothills vista. Can you imagine all of this in monochrome, a black and white Glenbow?
For more on Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park in winter, see also:
Yukon Gold In Fall Landscapes
A Modern Gold Rush
There is gold in them thar’ hills. Yukon gold. And it is free for the taking, once you discover it.
The gold rush of the past still haunts the other gold rush that has long outlasted the mineral quest of the last century. But unlike the former, wherever you venture in the fall are golden poplars, smattered with red shrubbery and purple hills and, if you are lucky, blue is in the skies reflecting off of the water. The yellow and blue make a colour palette marriage known by artists to create interest. Complementary colours. Intrinsically high contrast, warm yellow and cool blue. In the Yukon, at the beginning of September, warm may be the days but cool is biting the back of your neck and crawling down your spine as soon as the heat of the sun fades.
Head to the rivers and lakes and bogs and ponds for the most dramatic gold and blue landscapes. There you can reflect in the drama of early morning mist or late afternoon sunset, ideal for the sweetest light. As you scout locations for these warm hours, be mindful of the critters that can give you a bad time when you are least expecting them. Even in Whitehorse, with its far reaching suburbs, a grizzly sow and cubs are known to wander through the hood, giving no one any notice.
The essence of the north, breathtaking, dramatic and wild. Always a rush!
For more on the Yukon and golden fall landscapes, see also:
Yukon Fall Landscape ©heathersimondsphotography.com
Scottish Graveyards and Day of the Dead
Cemeteries around the world enter their busiest season after Hallowe’en rolls into early November and Scottish graveyards are no exception. Stark granite, Celtic crosses, lichen etched carvings, moss laden crevices, sun dappled tombstones await one of the oldest celebrations on earth when burial grounds creep into autumnal rites. Honouring the dead is worldwide practise, some cultures have a holiday, others a festival but universal is graveyard visitation.
Block your calendar off for October 31 into November 3 for some ancient ritual making, perhaps with a modern twist. Head to the nearest or craggiest graveyard to ring in All Saints Day, All Souls Day, All Hallows Eve or whatever your local culture sponsors.
Mexico leads the worldwide celebration, wrapped up in public holiday status with festivals and parades; it is widely celebrated as a time of family gathering, particularly in graveyards where penance is given to the dead. Traffic jams in the smallest of hamlets as participants laden with flowers (often marigolds or chrysanthemums), gifts or possessions of the dead, place them on the graves of their loved ones. Burial grounds are a global buzz.
So if you are the type of person who lingers at graveyards, even after Hallowe’en, be wary that it may be more congested this time of year. Congested with the living and the dead as they meet after the summer crops have been removed and the veil between the living and the dead became thinnest.
For more on rituals for the dead, see also: