Sagebrush Buttercups: Ranunculus glaberrimus

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Just down the road, where the sun hits just right, is a small patch of earth warmed by the sun where the snow has melted and the Sagebrush Buttercups are already springing to life.

Growing low to the ground with their buttery shiny-waxy petals these wonderful little flowers are a challenge to photograph yet fun nonetheless. They are a bit poisonous to the touch so take care if handling them as they can cause blistering.

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While a few were blooming most we still just on their way.

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A wonderful sign that spring is indeed on it’s way despite the recent snows.

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Decembers Light

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The mid-December sun, traveling low across southern sky casts long shadows on the icey blue face of a small pond and gently lights the landscape beyond. Decembers light is like no other and helps me keep track of the time like no wall calendar or wristwatch can.

The Fungus Among Us

I have always found mushrooms fascinating life forms. Not plant, not animal yet vitally important for the health of both plants and animals. However, they are a bugger to photograph yet I never stop trying.

Paul Stamets wrote a great book on Fungus call “Mycellium Running” and delivered a very interesting TED talk several years ago:

Sights and sounds

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The golden glow of the Aspens in the morning light.
Two chickadees singing a-dee-dee-dee with a nuthatch honking as the leaves rustle in the breeze.
The crows gurgling and woodpeckers pecking in the distance.
Sights and sounds of the forest on a morning hike.

The fruits of their labor

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Working hard from spring through summer the plants have done their thing. Now all that hard work is  proudly on display.

The Choke Cherries have ripened and will provide food for bears and birds and even a human or two.

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The Oregon Grape has produced berries of purple-blue that will help feed the grouse and pheasants as well as waxwings.

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The wild rose has a a tough go of it as these bushes are a favorite food of deer. These Rose Hips were hanging high on the only branch not trimmed low to the ground by a local family of deer. A mother Mule Deer and her two fawns can really make quick work of a rose bush.

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The snowberry bushes are numerous and cover the forest understory. This year they have done well and the berries will provide food for songbirds, game birds and many small mammals as winter rolls into town.

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The plants have been busy and the fruits of their labor show.

Rocky Mountain Bee Plant: Cleome serrulata

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Rocky Mountain Bee Plant: Cleome serrulata was a wonderful late blooming wildflower near us this year. It drew numerous species of bees, and butterflies, from near and far and always had visitors when in bloom providing pollinators with a generous sip of nectar.

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Growing up to 4 ft tall Bee Plant stands out in the fields of tall fall grasses.A beautiful and very sculptural wildflower Bee Plant is fun to photograph as well.

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According to the USDA “Cleome serrulata is an important cultural plant for many Southwestern Indian tribes. The young, tender shoots and leaves are good sources of vitamin A and calcium. In the past they were used as potherbs or medicinally as teas for fevers and other ailments. The seeds were ground and used to make gruel or bread. The Navajo still use the plant as a source of yellow-green dye for their beautiful wool rugs and blankets. Many pueblo tribes use a concentrated form of dye, made from boiling the plant into a thick black resin, to paint designs on pottery or for decorating their baskets.”

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On this particular afternoon the little green sweat bees were enjoying the plant to no end.

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Every flower seems to have a visitor.

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And one last look as even the bee fly mimics got in on the action.

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