As fall color, the caution-yellow flowers of rabbitbrush tend to flare early. They bloomed here, this year, weeks before the aspen or the scrub oak got around to changing. As a wildflower, though, rabbitbrush blooms late, which is why plantswoman Lauren Springer Ogden refers to it as the “last bar open”: a destination where insects gather for one final slug of nectar before the season shuts down.Details
High altitude gardening, in my experience, involves cultivating cool-season and quick-growing plants, but it also requires the nurturance of a certain fatalism about growing produce in a place where everything is apt to freeze around Labor Day—which is when classic garden veggies like squash and tomatoes have probably just hit their stride after their inevitable…Details
Travel, even for reasons as simplistically goal-oriented as arriving on your mom’s doorstep to give her a hug for the first time in almost two years, puts a frame around a period in life. Whether for a few days or a fortnight or a month, your perspective shifts, your views change, and you’re forced out…Details
Like many Americans, Doug and I recently decided it was time to slingshot ourselves out of the near-to-home orbit we’ve kept to for the past year and a half. Breaking away was not irrelevant, but mostly we wanted to check in with distant family members. I needed to hug my Mom, to lay eyes on…Details
They come out late—latest, I guess you could say. They green up after all the bunch grasses, after the aspens. They’re later to leaf out than the other shrubs: the currants, the mountain mahogany, the ninebark, the rabbitbrush, the mountain spray. They emerge after the blue grama, too, a warm-season grass that bides its time…Details
As I’ve noted in these pages before, mine is not a subsistence garden. The growing season here is short, the high-altitude weather is extreme, the space is limited. The gardener, meanwhile, is easily distracted, typically unable or unwilling to devote the sort of effort that would a) yield an ample edible harvest, or b) preserve…Details
They’re common as grass up here, and far more populous than trees. Lichens are everywhere, although I mostly notice them on rocks. Their ubiquity works against them, I suppose, makes it easy to skim past them with quick categorizing glances: the frilly pale green lichen, that orange one, the fluorescent lime variety. They’re also small…Details
On this March afternoon, clouds drift in sullen white-gray flocks, west to east. The sodden remains of last week’s blizzard litter the ground in ragged drifts, their undersides dissolving to slush faster than the tops melt under a disinterested sun. The warming ground and moisture are welcome, but the muck and disarray, on the heels of this very long winter, are not welcoming.
If I want greenery and the promise of another season, I won’t find it outdoors this week, not here…Details
The view outside has become tiresome.
I don’t think I’m supposed to say that. I’m not a fundamentalist, but I’ve steeped myself in a tradition of natural history that holds the world as sublime: a wellspring of solace and inspiration and revitalization, source of and target for gratitude.
Such qualities are sorely needed these days, and so I started writing a post on the theme weeks ago. The rough start I made framed a dissonance between the constructed world of news and current events (the “urban” of this site’s title) and the unbuilt environment of ridgelines and woods and grasslands (the “wild” outside my door).Details
Although we knew for months that sweet Moondo would not be with us much longer, I couldn’t face the prospect of looking for a new horse while he was alive.
I had no regrets about spending focused time with Moody in his final weeks, but if we were to continue to have horses in our lives, Jake would need a companion, so late July and early August were an unsettling mix. The raw emotions of loss were shadowed by brain-numbing online searches broken up with phone calls and emails punctuated by an occasional venture into the pandemic summer to look at prospects. I didn’t feel good about any of it. There could be no “replacing” Moondo, of course, but I’ve also never been a fan of getting on horses I don’t know. Then there’s the fact that looking for a horse is like the worst kind of blind dating, in which the one who turns out to be an asshole can dump you in the dirt.Details
Fourteen degrees as a daytime high is somewhat easier to take now that the calendar reads December…even if that same calendar assures me that winter is, technically, still more than two weeks away. We are on the far side of fall. The autumnal show is over: the leaves, having revealed their not-green alter egos, have…Details
The color of the wood caught my eye. Dull gold? Whitened tan? Honeyed beige? Light, in any event, blanched against the worn grasses and graying woodland litter. We were on the way back from a little hike, about a quarter of a mile east of the house. I detoured uphill to investigate, and when I…Details