Monday, May 9, 2011

It’s Alive!

Many years ago, when I was first contemplating moving from Tennessee to Utah, a co-worker made a really peculiar comment. This person (his brain undeniably swelled by the oppressive humidity) tried to convince me that the scenery out west is really nice if you are just looking at the larger landscape, but that up close the desert is not very interesting and in fact is basically lifeless and just downright ugly.

Obviously, this deluded individual had never lived out west. However, I knew better, even then.

Without a doubt, there is the long view …

(a)Near StGeorgeUT
(b)Near StGeorgeUT   
But if we just pause a moment and investigate more closely, it is amazing what we might notice, particularly on a sunny spring morning walkabout…

(d)PricklyPear Cactus
(e)PricklyPear Cactus
 These fragile prickly pear cactus blossoms shimmer like blown glass in the sunshine.

(c)PricklyPear Cactus
(b)PricklyPear Cactus


Sego lily, Utah’s state wildflower, displays a delicate blossom that can be easily trampled underfoot by the careless hiker.




Clusters of desert marigold edge the trail in a burst of brilliance and create an explosion of yellow on a brown, rocky hillside.
(a)Desert Marigold

(b)Desert Marigold  
(c)Desert Marigold
DesertMarigold Hillside

Spindly orange globemallow tiers skyward, sputtering in the gentle wind like just-lit candles.


 Bladderwort weaves its threads through the dry desert air.

(b)Bladderwort Blossom

Walking slowly allows you to see creatures that dash in the flash of a footstep.

We live today with the decisions made by those who came before us. What we endure in the southwestern United States as a consequence of these decisions is cheatgrass.

PricklyPearIn Cheatgrass
SegoLily EngulfedBy Cheatgrass

Cheatgrass probably originated in southwestern Asia. It made its way to the western states via contaminated grain from Europe in the late 1890's, filling a void that appeared as a result of the decline of native herbaceous vegetation as a consequence of historic livestock grazing, particularly in the Great Basin. Bromus tectorum infests open areas and has the grave potential to radically alter whatever ecosystem it invades. If it weren’t for this nasty invasive plant, I expect my hillsides would be draped in native wildflowers instead of merely dotted with them. Plus, I would not have to spend hours picking the spiny seeds out of my boots and socks at the end of a hike.

TrioOfPricklyPear Blossoms


  1. It's So beautiful to walk in the desert and see the big and small. Some people just don't get it. Thanks for sharing what I'm currently missing.

    I start to roll to the canyon tomorrow.

  2. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us. I will be following along all summer. Love and blessings, Wanda M.