Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

Saying Hello to Spring

Spring in Death Valley 1 (3936)

Well, that’s kind of a fib.  We’re not exactly in full Spring mode here in western NY.  Not yet, anyway.  There are some crocuses (croci?) and daffodils popping up, and some very small new leaves trying to emerge on certain kinds of trees, but we ain’t exactly breaking out the swimming suits yet.  No, these images are from Death Valley a few weeks ago.  We got lucky – we managed to time it just about right.  Flowers were popping out in many areas of the park.  Not everywhere, of course.  Nothing grows in the salt flats in the heart of the valley, nor are you likely to find much in the rocky slot canyons above the valley.  Or on the sand dunes.  But they were certainly there in large numbers in some of the “right” places.  Like this one, not far from the southern entrance.  We were amazed when we saw this display.  As luck would have it, another couple stopped to look and take photographs.  Turned out he was an expert on Death Valley vegetation and a member of some board having to do with the park.  He told us that this didn’t happen every Spring, at least not to this extent.  It all depended on the extent of local rainfall.  We’d come at the right time, he said.

Spring in Death Valley 2 (3942)

I have to admit that I have no idea what this thing is.  It looked like some kind of tumbleweed, except, of course, it was definitely alive and not blowing across the wide open spaces of Death Valley.  And it was really, really yellow.  By this time my “expert” had gone on down the road, so I was left there scratching my head.  And I still haven’t googled the damn thing………..

Spring in Death Valley 3 (3944)

A flowering cactus is a different story, though.  At least I’d seen them before.  Give them a little water to work with and they go crazy.  Just don’t touch the needles.

By now all this is almost certainly gone.  Even when we were there the daily temperatures were reaching the low 90’s.  Now they seem to be in the low 100’s.  The record, of course, is 134.  Probably just a little too warm for this kind of vegetation.  But for a few short moments, Death Valley put on a show.  And thankfully, we were there to see it.    


2 Responses to “Saying Hello to Spring”

  1. e. Brooks

    I guess my impression of Death Valley was more of the sand dunes, slot canyons and salt flats…you know, the “death” part! I wouldn’t have expected these flowers (well…perhaps the cactus) and the bright colors.

    Goes to prove why you should assume nothing. 🙂

    We’ve been seeing small cactus in the wild along paths and the roads here in Florida. It didn’t think of cactus in Florida…at least not in the wild.

    • Paul Maxim

      You know, I think we’ve seen some small cactus on our way into places like Pensacola. The areas north of the gulf actually do look a lot like desert. And I’ll bet they get almost as hot in the summer time.

      From what we were told (and from what I’ve read) we were extremely lucky to see this “outbreak” of flowers. It doesn’t happen every year and sometimes it’s a number of years before the next one happens. It all depends on the weather.


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