Monday, July 10, 2017

Dreaming of Blizzards

 I've had a busy four days, my life running on three or four story lines simultaneously.  Last Thursday I posted a few flowers found in a meadow by Alder Creek, the site where the Donner Party perished.  That roadside turnout is pretty dangerous, so the acknowledgment of the Donner Party's history has been moved to the state park near Donner Lake, west of Truckee.  But I like hanging out at this more remote spot which is now visited mostly by fly fishermen who may or may not know of its connection to the Donner Party.  I'm posting here a few more flowers from that brief stop.  I had just dropped off my son and daughter-in-law at the old Donner Summit to begin their hike toward Plumas County.  Actually, for my daughter-in-law, it was continuation of her attempt to hike the entire PCT this summer.  When I'm not providing transportation and working on some home improvement projects, I'm teaching Nature Literature in America at FRC.  In that class I've recently read the students' work following their reading about John Muir who loved severe storms.  As I wandered those meadows alongside Alder Creek, I wondered if John Muir could have saved those people in the Donner Party.  It seems they were quite unprepared, both equipment-wise and temperamentally.  As far as I am concerned, they were the victims of goals and dreams that do not make sense.   Today, with appropriate equipment and training, we can look forward to the very same kinds of extreme weather experiences that killed the Donner Party folks but provided excitement to John Muir.  He was tough!  He didn't have today's equipment or training, but had lots of common sense, and clearly the right temperament to appreciate the rugged environment of the Sierra.  So, while I dreamed of the kinds of storms that excited Muir, I enjoyed a warm, sunny day and took photos of a few wildflowers.  The above photo is Rein Orchis. Before coming in close with my camera, it would have been easy to overlook all of these as they were spread among the taller grasses, rushes and sedges that made the meadow look like a giant, green carpet.
 The second photo is Bistort, a relative of the Buckwheats.
 I think this is a Cinquefoil, but I'm not sure.  I failed to take notice of the leaves.  I just liked the arrangement of flower and fruit and wasn't too concerned about identifying it.
 A Sierra Wild Rose growing out of a crack in a Douglas-fir stump (above) and finally a nice specimen of Spreading Dogbane (below), now in the same family as the milkweeds.
While I enjoyed this brief stop, both the scenery and the history, my mind was already on the impending trip to the coast.  We left at 6:00 a.m. for Ft. Bragg, and I was already dreaming about visiting favorite spots along the Mendocino and Sonoma County coasts that I hadn't seen in several years.  That trip was brief, but very enjoyable, and photos will soon follow.

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