Wildflowers for Mother's Day

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I had a lovely Mother's Day, and I hope you did too. Mine was quiet and mellow, just the way I like it: I spent time with friends, caught up with my family, and then worked in my yard, planting new plants, grubbing out invasive weeds, and seeding in the beginning of a native meadow in the backyard that last week was torn up for my new underground electric line. 

After I finished playing with plants--something that never fails to make me happy--I headed out for my usual Sunday evening run.

I can't say that running makes me happy the way working with plants does, but that particular form of self-torture, er, exercise, does get me outside and into the nearby wild, which always lifts my spirits. And once I finish the run, I feel quite virtuous. (And completely worn out.) 

I hadn't been out for a run in almost two weeks because of travel and house renovation, so I wasn't sure whether the spring wildflowers would still be dotting the sagebrush outside town. 

Indeed they were: Oh, not the same Nuttall's violets, wild parsley, and spiny phlox that were blooming a few weeks ago. The next wave of wildflowers had taken over the spring bloom. 

I spotted the creamy flower clusters of wild onion first.

I think this is Allium brandegeei, Brandegee's onion

And then this cute yellow composite (daisy-family plant) with its mats of thumbnail-sized fuzzy leaves and outsized flower heads with notched rays.

(I haven't identified this one yet.) 

And these evening primrose blossoms, opening to invite late-flying pollinators in for a meal. 

This is probably whitestem evening primrose, but I'm not entirely certain

And who could miss the brilliant scarlet bracts on this indian paintbrush! The prairie junegrass (Koeleria macrantha) next to it on the left is a big part of what makes the landscape in the photo at the top of the post look so green. 

Castilleja angustifolia var. dubia

As I huffed and puffed my way through my 3.5-mile route, I spotted more wildflowers: chrome yellow stoneseed, ivory bastard toadflax, starry white Hooker's sandwort, and the sulfur yellow of prairie rocket or sand-dune wallflower dotting the sagebrush in the photo below. 

Erysimum capitatum among the Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp Wyomingensis) and prairie junegrass

At the end of  my run, I turned back toward town a little reluctantly because I was so enjoying the wildflowers. Most are familiar, old friends I have known since childhood or since college field botany classes. Some, like that mat-forming composite with the outsized golden flower heads are new ones I have yet to learn. 

Either way, they're a wonderful Mother's Day gift, a blessing from this landscape that holds my heart. 

My word for this year is "gratitude." It is easy to be grateful for each day now that I am home. Of course, there are challenges; in particular, house renovation, which always brings surprises, and always costs more than I expected, as well as earning a living from my writing, which I haven't really mastered since Richard died. 

But those challenges can't dent my joy in being here, among a community of friends, both human and wild. In a place where I and the ravens and bluebirds belong in a cell-deep way, along with the aromatic big sagebrush, the prairie Junegrass, and the blessing of wildflowers.

All of us part of Earth's time of spring and renewal.

I wish you all that heart-whole sense of belonging and the rich connection of being at home on this extraordinary planet. 

And because it's Mother's Day, I can't forget a shout-out to my mom, Joan Cannon Tweit (1931-2011), the California girl who passed to me her passion for all plants, domestic and wild, especially native wildflowers. Thanks, Mom!

Mom, on her honeymoon in Lassen National Park, June 1952

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