July 4, 2010

Day 16: Flowers in the Sierras

I will remember 2010 as the year of three springs. The first came when I visited mild Napa over the winter holidays. The second burst forth over a period of a couple weeks beginning in March in Vermont. I got my third on a hike here in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, where tender shoots are still popping up at the edge of snow fields (bottom left) and thawing bare slopes are dominated by the beautiful hues and textures of lichens (below), conifers, and ancient junipers (bottom right, you can see why my grandpa calls them "the Guardians of the Sierras").

In warm little patches blessed with sunnier exposure, some plants are a bit further along. We saw one of my family's favorites, the lupine (below), as well as wax currant (middle), and this funny tiny flower (bottom), which possesses the very apt Latin and common names of Dicentra uniflora and "longhorn steer's head", respectively.
The aspens, so verdant and rustling in the summer and brilliantly fiery in the fall, were looking just as beautiful in the spring with their graceful, snow-twisted branches (below).
Back at my grandparents' place I made a table arrangement from Sierra onions (Allium campanulatum) which have gloriously installed themselves in the backyard (below).

To me they look a lot like little fireworks, which seemed appropriate for today's post. Happy Fourth of July!

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