Two things at least a few of you have asked for: new music, and moar flowerz. You shall have both, my darlings.
I’ve been using Pandora quite a bit now I own the Kindle Fire, and discovered quite a lot of new music that gets right down to the root of me. One of my favorites so far is Secret Garden. It’s Irish-Norwegian sheer delight. Piano and violin and, sometimes, voices that sweep a person right out of this ordinary world.
It’s the sort of music that goes well with dramatic but serene landscapes, and flowers in same. So why don’t we combine said melodies with wildflowers from Crater Lake, which is nothing if not a dramatic but often serene landscape.
There’s a meadow just up the road from the Pumice Desert where the lupines lie thick on the ground, and the views over the surrounding mountains are spectacular. Even if you’re eager to see the lake itself, take a moment and enjoy a classic alpine scene. And if anyone knows what the magenta flowers are, please do enlighten us. I just galloped through a book on Pacific Northwest flowers without finding them. Lyall’s Lupine, however, was dead simple – short, stout, definitely lupine in leaf and bloom. They were growing within sight of snow banks – snow, in late August, no less. The roots of these plants dive deep so as to survive very long, tough winters.
You know, lupines may have been amongst the first plants to colonize the blastscape left behind when Mt. Mazama blew its guts out. Lupines marched back onto the barren slopes of Mt. St. Helens after the 1980 eruption and established themselves quickly. They have adaptations that help them survive some pretty extreme conditions. Their leaves know how to deal with heat and dry weather. You’d not think anything needs to be dry-adapted on the western side of the Cascades, but we have long summer droughts, and plenty of places where stony or sandy soil doesn’t hold water very well.
On the slopes of the caldera, you’ll see bunches of this fantastic flowering plant spreading out in riotous bunches, ignoring completely the fact that they’re growing on near-vertical ground. My handy Wildflowers of the Olympics and Cascades tells me this is a deep-rooted plant that’s good at stabilizing steep slopes. I can easily believe that. It also apparently keeps the snow from slip-sliding down in winter. It doesn’t look so rough and tough, yet it is. This is why I love nature.
This stuff grows all over the place up here. I found this bunch at a particularly interesting road cut. Pretty flowers, right? Only, they aren’t flowers. Not really. Those blooms are bracts – modified leaves – and the scarlet tips of leaves. There are a lot of plants that, lacking petals due to some vagary of evolution, have made do with forming sort-of flowers from leaves and bracts. This is one. So now you know – some plants are lying to you. But they’re still beautiful, so we forgive them.
Moar lupine, from a stop on the other side of the caldera, near sunset. I love lupine. It’s beautiful, easy to photograph, and easy to tell what it is. And, sometimes, there are butterflies on it, which makes it all the more lovable.
I know you’d never forgive me for mentioning Crater Lake without posting an actual picture of it, so in the interests of keeping your love, here ’tis:
The sun’s at the wrong angle for revealing that spectacular TARDIS blue water, but it’s lovely all the same. A few thousand years after mind-boggling violence, we have now got a beauty spot. This world is remarkable.
We’ll close with one more Secret Garden song, which I’ve often listened for at bedtime. It’s just the thing to make a person rest content with the world.