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Monday, June 22, 2009

It's summertime...

Summer has finally arrived with sun, blue sky, and a bustle of new life in the mountains. I'm planning a vacation, sans internet, to enjoy summer so this blog will be taking a hiatus. For today, I just have a quick post.

K and I had a easy, almost lazy, ride. We stopped to enjoy the novel feeling of warm sun on bare shoulders. K also skidded to a halt to sniff a humongous columbine - I've never seen her so interested in a flower. I missed the cute sniff but I took a photo of her next to it. What a combination - a beautiful dog and a beautiful flower in a sea of aspen trees!Yesterday, I found a Green Gentian. I had no doubt of my identification because it's so distinctive looking but one detail bugged me. Some of my books said that the flowers have four petals, and one book said four or five petals. Today, during my ride with K, I found the reason for the confusion. The plant that I spotted yesterday had more flowers open. Only the 'crown' flower, perched on the tip-top of the plant, had five petals. All the other flowers had four.When we stopped in a meadow, a new flower had opened: an American Bistort (Polygonum bistortoides). The cylindrical flower was about 1-2" tall, and it balanced atop a tall stem as skinny and flexible as a grass stalk. As a slight breeze touched the meadow, all the snow white Bistort Heads swayed.
After I dropped off K, I saw my second snake of the year (the first was yesterday). I believe he was a Western Terrestrial Garter Snake, the only species that I've ever seen in our montane environment. As it stretched out in the sun, it reached 18" long and luxuriously basked. For a bribe of 10 insects, he let me take as many photos as I wanted. Now, *those* are beady eyes!These snakes survive our cold winters by going into dens up to 3' deep and crowding many snakes into a small cavern. They become dormant, and their body temperature falls to 35-40 degrees, staying just warmer than the critical freezing temperature. They can survive at this temperature without losing too much weight for up to 4 months. A common story is that all the garter snakes in one area emerge, en masse, from hibernation when the first thunder booms.

I enjoyed an awe-inspiring view of wildflowers and still-snowy mountains. I bet that the snow will vanish at light-speed if the lovely weather continues.
I hope that all of you have time to enjoy the bounty and beauty of summer with your families, human and canine. That's what I plan to do.


  1. Snakes here come out much sooner. We saw our first one in March.

    I love these wildflower photographs. And I thought the last picture looked just like the Alps with the meadow and snow-capped mountains in the background. Such beautiful country.

  2. have a wonderful hiatus....i'll miss your lovely words and beautiful pictures! hope you're not gone too long...

  3. I love the snake picture! And the flowers - usually if B stops to sniff a flower, she ends up biting it off. Enjoy your vacation!

  4. You can bribe snakes!!!???

    Great shots, great post, I really enjoy your sensitivity....I like to read your posts when I'm at work, the difference between the world we live in and the one I work in are amazing!
    Thank you and enjoy your time off,

  5. Hi KB,
    Summer has finally arrived here in my corner of the Rockies, too, though our night temps still go into the 30's. Wildflowers are suddenly blooming and everything is so green from all the rain. I love your Green Gentian photos - saw them last year at a lake outside of Dillon. No snakes at all at my altitude - thank goodness! Have a great vacation.

  6. I was wondering why I haven't seen any notices of updates on your blog. Got a little worried. Guess I missed reading this one. I hope you are enjoying the summer. It is a good idea to spend less time inside looking at a screen when you can be outside looking at flowers. Take care!


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