Waiting For Wildflowers

Always the first to bloom in the high desert, the lovely Sand Lily.

Aside from the abundant wax current blooms, which count as flowers, of course, but as tiny and pale pink as they are, do not satisfy the flower itch, the first wildflower that I spotted this year was a scrappy little white thing alone in the dirt. I loved it! And was secretly worried that someone was going to tell me it was invasive, not native, not a wildflower at all. I did a little research and feel safe in my ID of it as a sand lily! Not as bright or delicate as the glacier lilies I would see in Utah, but I will take it. I’ve since discovered another lily… maybe a chocolate checker lily? Columbia lily? And little tiny fuschia-colored flowers are crouching in the ground.

Meanwhile, the whole desert has turned green and the need for flowers seems less urgent.

RK is recovering from knee surgery and hasn’t been able to be on the trails much, so I like to keep him updated on the wildflower situation. “Lupine just opening near the switchback below the houses!” “New kind of lily off-trail near the deer leg that Mack has been chewing, close to the junction.” Maybe he will be able to walk that far soon, or maybe I just need someone else to be excited about the wildflowers.

Spring in Salt Lake was always so boldly cheerful, with hillsides of Balsam Root blazing yellow all at once. But here, in Central Oregon, there are tiny dots of pink, modest yellow lilies speckled with maroon, keeping their color facing decidedly down. I see you chocolate checker lilies!!

In perfect Central Oregon style, nothing wants to stand out too much, create a stir, or take all the attention.

Wildflowers are a spark for my optimism and without them, with the persistence of gray winter branches, gray dried bunch grasses, gray skies, it was hard to get on top of the anxiety of the lingering winter. Last weekend I screeched my bike to a halt to get a photo of the first paintbrush — finally, red!

The flowers are still keeping it low key, but obviously, we are on the road to better times. When each morning run includes sitings of color, flowers I have never seen before and some I think I recognize, it is hard not to feel like we are moving forward.

Laurel Hunter

Laurel Hunter

Central Oregon, USA