A First

Thought: I’d like to listen to the Beatles right now! And a following thought: there’s no Beatles on your iPod. And there never has been.

Rather than cancel each other out, these two thoughts send a shudder through my basis of reality.


Hopefully This Helps Clear Things Up

I was not a young person with big ideas.

I was a young person lacking spectacularly in ideas.
It was spectacular considering the feelings that served as placeholders– this unmeasurable wealth of feelings.
But I had no idea.

It is unusual, while walking the residential blocks of town, to pass another walker. It is much more unusual to pass a walker who is not accompanied by a dog.

Do people have dogs because they need encouragement to walk?
Or does the category of walkers overlap, let’s say, 85%, with the category of dog walkers?

Lastly: what is the man who walks without the dog?

Geologically, a drive down Paradise Valley has it all. You got your Paleozoic limestone and Precambrian gneiss, “Chalk Cliffs” and volcanic plugs, petrified trees and blood red shale—so many phenomena that have nothing in common, except this place. Often overlooked at the northern end of this open-air gallery, opposite the eye-catching maws of Deep and Pine Creeks, reclines the Hogback. In the company of giants, the Hogback appeals for its approachability. We’ve walked the Hogback, three years in a row, on nearly the exact same date.




It’s the time and place that I find the first flowers of the year.

Fewseed Draba

Incredibly, despite the energy expenditure of making flowers, this plant reproduces asexually—that is, it doesn’t produce pollen, it doesn’t offer anything to pollinators, and pollinators don’t offer anything to it. While this fact opens up all kinds of new questions (namely: what do the flowers do?), it helps to answer one.

Q: What pollinates the first flower of spring?
A: Nothing.

Rocky Mountain Douglasia

This cushion plant bears a close resemblance to flowers common to the high elevation timberline (the better known treeline, defined by cold, not heat)… moss campion certainly comes to mind. Douglasia is able to employ some of the same adaptations that assist survival on mountaintops to an opposite, but equally hostile, setting. This spot is unusually dry, with katabatic winds racing off the Yellowstone plateau, and well-drained mineral soil. The visible biomass of this plant is just the tip of the iceberg—its roots must reach many times further for water than its leaves for the sun.

These tiny flowers will get buried in a couple more snow falls, then quickly shrivel up and go to the wind. They will be forgotten in the sotted, florid rush of summer. But for now they carry the promise of all the life to come, they do it beautifully well, and that makes them larger than life.