Dear Beth 26 April, 03
How do you hi-rise city dwellers know when it’s Spring? There is the calendar, the weather reports, neighborhood images by the roving reporter, and the Kentucky derby, always run the first Saturday in May.
Out here in the Yakima boonies, spring is not a calendar event tho it’s never more that 2-3 weeks off the traditional dates. This year, the butter cups were in bloom the first week of March and they’re long lasting. They were overlapped and followed by a colorful continuum of wild flora that will go into mid-summer, some lasting but 2-3 days.
Next door, the pear orchard is in bloom and the 60 acres of apples will follow in about 10 days. Earlier, the lone family cherry tree and apricot tree bloomed.
After my morning hike with the dogs, I frequently refer to the Sagebrush Country- a Wildflower Sanctuary for the names of the flowers I’ve seen. By now I should know them all-but I don’t-and Andy Anderson, our old high school biology teacher, would be disappointed. Poor memory for wildflowers I guess.
From my youngster days, I still remember Indian Paint brush which I don’t have in my backyard and lupine which I do.
Over the years from my hikes thru the brush, I’ve added only Balsam root, Large headed clover, Phlox, and Desert parsley.
From my hikes on the wet side-out of Seattle-I know the Columbine and Trillium, neither of which we have here in the sagebrush.
On this mornings hike, I spotted a flower just blooming which for now, after checking my book guide, I’m calling the Camas. It looks like the so called Death Camas and I’ll want my homo sapiens expert to look at it.
The Camas, as do most wildflowers, comes in a number of varieties and only the Death Camas is poisonous. Utah’s Kamas, my mother’s home town, was named after the flower. Here in Washington, we also have a town named Camas. Our spelling is better. Neither named after the Death Camas, which I’m guessing by looking at the latin names, is a very different species than the more beautiful flowering Camas which is not deadly.
And when you think Spring, don’t overlook the bugs that also take on new life and vigor as the days lengthen and warm, such as the wood tick-here called the dog tick. An ugly little creature. I’ve been warned about ticks since the first day I crawled into the sagebrush-about age 2. There was always the anxious ritual of mother and dad inspecting your naked body for the little crawling creature with much talk about dying from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. And of course a discussion of how to force the little varmint to let go if he had a grip. Dad was for the lighted cigarette, Eva for the turpentine. It is no wonder some grown-ups still panic when they see one. If the ugly little tick can cause such fear it is a good thing the dinosaurs are long gone.
Both Lynn Poulsen and Elmer Fellis attended Mt. Pleasant’s Pioneer Day luncheon. The program was improved from last year but the luncheon entrée was still a sub sandwich-however unlike last year, it had been thawed. Elmer said he’s told the food committee no more subs or he is gone. Lynn, a former president of the group, never comments on the food. He may be packing in his own lunch. The church has a large modern kitchen and I may get a group together including you to prepare next years meal. Old fashioned meat stew-maybe Venison with dumplings. Sharpen your spud peeling skills so you’ll be ready.