Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tiny miracles

As I trudged through fresh mud this morning to photograph the nearby dry creek, which is finally gurgling and gushing downhill, I ran into another gift left by the heavy rains we've had during the past three days: hundreds, make that thousands, of wildflowers.

Flowers popping up in the spring shouldn't be a revelation anywhere, except they seem like  a particularly special gift here. For two-thirds of the year the landscape is stark and desert-like. Stew's brother visited a few months back and he said he couldn't imagine that it would ever turn green. I e-mailed him a picture this morning to prove that it does.

During our first spring at the ranch hardly any wildflowers showed up, most likely because of overgrazing. Our neighboring farmers, all of them very poor, won't resort to bales of hay or alfalfa until the livestock is damn near starving, usually around May and June.

Until then, sheep, goats, burros and cows just meander around ever more desperately looking for the last bite of green. I've seen goats nibbling on huizaches and other thorny desert plants that to me seem inedible, but then I'm not a ravenous goat.

Shortly after we bought our three hectares we fenced them to keep our dogs in and all those hungry mouths outside. Our new land was not only rocky but scalped of any wild vegetation, except for the bigger cacti and the huizaches.

During the first two years some grasses and flowers grew tentatively during the rainy season, but not many.  But last year the wildflower show began its run in earnest.

The wildflowers I noticed this morning are not Dutch tulips or any such spring show-offs, but tiny, timid flowers that barely rise above your foot or peek through the foliage of larger plants. I could try cutting a few and putting them in a vase but suspect these untamed specimens won't stand any captivity.

That doesn't take away anything from their beauty; I noticed several hues of blue and purple that I don't think are very common among flowers.

To enjoy these blossoms you have walk slowly, look down and venture out every day from now until the wildflower show is over in a few more weeks.

When it's finished there won't be any reason to feel bad. These tiny miracles will be back next year with an even more stunning display. 
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