Sunday, February 18, 2007
Today, after weeks of snow and ice, the sun was shining and warm 55 degree day bid me go outside to play! Play in the mud, on the rocks and plants. We hiked up on the ridge behind my house to see what we could see. Suprisingly enough, even after the weeks of snow and ice, there are green things sprouting up in the mud. And there are not so green things as well.
A long steep climb took us to a place I've christened the "deer meadow" because when we arrived, I almost suggested we frolic about int he meadow, when I saw this.
I looked closer, and noted that there were about 8 deer either laying in the sun, eating or otherwise just takin it easy up there. And they didnt seem to mind us wandering closer to take some pictures. There are a lot of people up this trail, so not too suprising that they couldn't care less about the gawking bipeds.
Further up the ridge I found the dried remains of what smelled an awful lot like catnip. At least it was a mint family plant, though there wasn't much of it to identify. I saw lots and LOTS of artemisia frigida, the smallest, low growing species of artemisia I know of. It's smell was rich and pungent, even with it's diminuitive size.
As we got hungry and ran low on water, we ended up cutting down the ridge away from the trail where a happy herbalist and wild food enthusiast found a long beloved plant that I haven't seen much of in the desert southwest. Can you guess what it is?
Imminently useful, various parts are considered a good wild edible, including starchy roots, tender green spring shoots, and flowers/pollen. The leaves can be used to make baskets, and the stalks as a fire drill...the lovely seeds (shown here) make a wonderful fire starter, and make a lovely outdoor plaything when they burst open and fluff up and blow away like smoke. Got a guess yet?
As it turns out the deer really have nothing to fear from us bipeds, it's the large, rather hungry cats that wander these hills they need to worry about. Looks like a couple of members of that docile tribe of deer didn't quite make it. We found the front legs and spine of one just off the trail, and a second one laying in the dirt back at the edge of the neighboorhood, where the development is spreading, but houses aren't up yet. If the cats are out dragging their meals to my neighboorhood, I'm thinking twice about taking my barefoot walks after dark.
overall, a good day! I'm so looking foward to spring growth! By this time in the southwest, things are in full bloom...