Friday, April 20, 2012


It was T.S. Elliott who wrote that, “April is the cruelest month,” in a poem called The Waste Land. With the lack of precipitation this winter, those of us who look forward to southern Nevada's grand display of spring wildflowers, are inclined to agree with that still famous line. This year’s usual roadside and wilderness displays have, indeed, been cruelly disappointing. Every April, I make my pilgrimage to what is a holy-land for me – the Eastern Mojave Desert and its incredible array of native flora. This time around, I was told not to expect much more than the mistletoe that sucks life out of trees. But, back I came to volunteer as a botanical artist at Lake Mead National Recreation area. A few days into my flower search, at the eastern foot of the Muddy Mountains, among parched hills resembled the bleached vertebrae of long dead cattle, were a profusion of several kinds of violet colored Phacelia flowers. To my surprise, damp soil led to the alkaline banks of Bitterspring, pooled with water. These cone shaped flowers popping out from hairy stems were mana. A yellow-cup Camissonia brevipes stood nearby, a signal tower of nature's call for diversity. Here was flower power on the Bittersweet Trail. Further-on, a grove of Cottonwoods, shaded the deepest pools in a brackish stream with long tentacles of algae, thriving in the current. The Mojave Desert, while not awash in blooms, still seemed magnificent with its spots of floral color. In the desert, it can take so little to feel that ones hopes are met. Even with their modest blooms, I feel the power of flowers. You can find flower power for free during National Park Week, April 21-29. There are no admission fees at Lake Mead and Death Valley, all week long. Entrance fees are waived, again, at all of America’s nearly 400 national parks on June 9th, for Get Outdoors Day. # # #

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