Fall lasted what seemed to be unusually long this year in southwest Montana. The days were warmer and the sun brighter in late October than I remembered in years past. Then the calendar flip to November and suddenly we had two back to back snow events, leaving a thick covering on the ground. We still have a blanket of snow in our yard and they are calling for another snow event tonight. Fall was gone in a flash and winter is here to stay.
Like the cactus the Montana state flower, the bitterroot, is not an easy flower to find. It is low to the ground and not surrounded by showing vegetation year round. I was lucky in that one piece of rangeland I was surveying last week there were tons of bitterroot plants getting ready to bloom and there were even a few blooming.
These were taken in Lake county Montana.
This week I was reminded that not all deserts are sand and cactus. We often think of deserts as full of sand and cactus, aka Arizona or Africa. The Great Basin of which Montana is part of is also covered in part by a very large desert, a cold one. The vegetation one usually sees is bunch grasses and sage. In some places you will find even find cactus. They are generally clumped together and low to the ground not easy to see or find. But this week I was in the right place and the right time to see the cactus blooming.
These were taken near Glen, Montana.
After complaining that spring seems slow to come this year, and a skiff of snow again this week I am seeing signs of spring starting to show up. One of the earliest spring flowers has arrived. Alpine Phlox is in bloom. I love this little flower because it is such a subtle flower. It is so small, so close to the ground. It looks almost like a juniper or some other evergreen. You can miss it if you don’t watch for it. It is a great reason to slow down and enjoy the moment and the place you are in. Best of all it doesn’t care that we are in a winter storm weather advisory and it looks like snow again today!