The Importance of Spring

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it.” Howard Thurman

Arrowleaf Balsamroot
Arrowleaf Balsamroot

I love this time of year. Sun shines in my window earlier and earlier waking me earlier and earlier. Birds flit and sing in the trees around our home. New life abounds. In the skies I look for the return of mountain bluebirds, kestrels, sandhill cranes and osprey. Even my computer fills with spring’s life: Facebook friends ask and reply about what birds have been seen, how far they’ve travelled south through Paradise Valley to arrive on Yellowstone’s Northern Range. I search for those birds as I drive in and out of Gardiner, scanning the juniper trees for Mountain Bluebirds, looking for Kestrels on posts lining the dirt road, spotting an Osprey on the nest near the Yellowstone River, hoping to see Sandhill Cranes on the sagebrush flats.

Our weekend hikes become searches for the first signs of spring; who can find the first Pasqueflower, the first Shooting Star, the first Yellowbell, the first Grizzly track. We stop, exclaim and take photos. I say hello to the flowers and tell them that they are lovely. We check the track and discuss size, species and direction of travel. If we are lucky we might see a herd of bison with new calves in the distance.

Pasqueflower
Pasqueflower

Flowers, especially, speak to me this time of year. They remind me of changes, of new beginnings and endings. I came to Yellowstone to stay in 2002, working a job that had been my dream for 30 years. Fred and I moved permanently in 2004. With the move came wholeness as my spirit and body united in this ecosystem. Endings came that May with the death of my mother in Michigan. Bittersweet as this time of year can be, flowers lift my spirit, become shining lights reminding me that life renews.

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Pasqueflower conjures up memories of my first spring working in Yellowstone, not quite all here yet, some of me still left behind in Michigan. As I hiked down the Hellroaring Trail, they knocked me out with their beauty. They still do.

Wyoming Kittentails
Wyoming Kittentails

When I see Wyoming Kittentails, I remember the difficulty I had identifying the small purple flower,  and how excited I was when I finally got it; again a new-to-me flower, found above Slough Creek as I led a group of students for Expedition:Yellowstone!.

Yellowbells, Sagebrush Buttercup, Leafy Musineon, Phlox, Prairie Smoke, Bluebells, Shooting Stars, Evening Primrose, Arrowleaf Balsamroot…All old friends now; I greet them with love each spring.

Buttercup
Buttercup
Evening Primrose
Evening Primrose
Yellowstone Draba
Yellowstone Draba

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“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant”… Anne Bradstreet

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8 thoughts on “The Importance of Spring

  1. Marcia Woolman

    Awesome Julianne, The pictures are wonderful and the drawings from your diary even more amazing. Thanks for the visual aide for those of us that have not taken the time to learn all the names. I just enjoy them and continue on the path leading to a great fishing hole. I may just get out my flower book and take it with me this year. You have inspired me. Marcia

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 242, the number of photographs I came home with this morning. I could not stop taking pictures of the backside of our Sonoran Desert super bloom. I kept thinking of the beauty I attempted to capture in very small corners of the desert, how all these small parts contribute to the whole, the magnificence surrounding me. Your story focused me on the mountain wildflowers I will find this summer. My camera will capture small segments, an attempt to help me remember the whole, all of the experience. Your opening paragraph made me laugh, if you want to wake earlier and earlier, you could hike with me:)
    Mike

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mike! But if I hiked with you, I’d miss many flowers in the dark :)…. Your super bloom has been amazing this year. Wish we could have experienced it. But your photos allow me to do that vicariously.

      Liked by 1 person

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