Saturday, August 29, 2009

Grains of Sand

We are but grains of sand on this earth -- our lives largely affected by forces beyond our control. There are times when an individual grain may find itself transformed and valued among all other grains of sand. By chance, a small speck becomes trapped within the body of an oyster and, after many years, becomes a beautiful iridescent pearl. We enjoy this pearl and admire its uniqueness and incredible beauty. Other times, a grain of sand is distinguished by its ability to irritate and cause pain as when a single grain becomes lodged within the eye and we curse its presence.

Most of us make up the vast grains of sand on the earth -- our purpose linked with purpose of the other like grains; and our significance apparent in the result of our combined presence. We become glass, useful and beautiful. We become cement, strong and permanent. We become the playground of children, a place of delight and creative imagination.

Free will is an important quality in human beings. It often influences our destiny. Still, only a few of us will have the opportunity to become the pearl. Our lack of such opportunity does not make us worth less. Our worth most often is dependent upon the combined activity of like-mined individuals facing similar conditions. Together we become transformed and valued, like the millions of grains which become the road, the playground or the ceramic vase. Strive to become the pearl. But remember, most of life’s accomplishments will be the result of the joint effort of many. Always value this as your greatest achievement.

Vicki Powers

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wildflowers of the Sandia Mountains - South Crest Trail

The Sandia Mountains just east of Albuquerque, New Mexico, receive millions of visitors each year who enjoy hiking, skiing, birdwatching, mountain biking, picnics, photography, and, of course, wildflowers.

Scarlet Paintbrush


Jacob's Ladder Polemonium foliosissimum

Western Wallflower Erysimum capitatum

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly on Western Wallflower

My daughter, Amanda, hiking the 10K Trail

Wild Iris just below the Crest

I am a Volunteer with the US Forest Service (Sandia Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest here in north central New Mexico). Currently I am a Wildflower Interpreter-in-training. This summer, we've been walking the different trails in and around the Sandia Mountains near my home. I've learned to identify flowers of the native plants, shrubs and trees. Here is a Sandia Mountain trail map.  I am learning about the Sandia Mountain wildflowers from the best local expert, Pearl Burns.

Pearl Burns standing beside the sign
by the Crest Nature Trail dedicated to her

These flowers were found on the South Crest Trail south of the Crest House (about 10,600 ft. elevation) in July, 2009. Here is a website with information on the complete South Crest Trail (#130).

King's Crown Sedum integrifolium

Mountain Parsley Pseudocymopterus montana

Yarrow Achillea lanuosa (pink variety)

View from the Crest Trail towards Albuquerque

Red Columbine Aquilega triternata

Cliffs alongside the South Crest Trail

Rocky Mountain Penstemon Penstemon strictus
and  Fendler's Sandwort Arenaria fendleri

Alpine Clover Trifolium dasyphyllum

Rocky Mountain Penstemon Pentstemon strictus

Harebells Campanula rotundifolia

Snowberry Symphoricarpos oreophilus

Golden Pea Thermopsis gracilis

Meadow Rue Thalictrum fendleri (female flowers)

Meadow Rue Thalictrum fendleri (male flowers)

View west from the South Crest Trail

Twistpod Draba Draba helleriana

Coralbells Heuchera pulchella

White Pea Vine Lathyrum leucanthus

Sierra Blanca Bladderpod

Dragonhead  Dracocephalum parviflorum

Jacob's Ladder Polemonium foliosissimum

La Veta Fleabane Erigeron vetensis

Mountain Caraway Aletes acaulis

Osha Ligusticum porteri

Twistedpod Draba Draba aurea 

Red Elderberry Sambrucus racemose

Mountain Spray Holodiscus dumosa

Northern Bedstraw Galium boreale

Townsend Daisy Townsendia exima

Scarlet Paintbrush Castilleja miniata

Geyer Onion Lilium geyeri

Rocky Mountain Clematis Clematis columbiana

Lanceleaf Bluebells Mertensia lanceolota

Star Solomon Seal Maianthemum stellatum

Yellow Sky Pilot  Polemonium brandegei
growing in the cliffs facing the west on the Crest Trail

One of many Cinquefoils. The flowers look the same so you must identify them by their leaves. They are members of the Rose Family. This one is Pretty Cinquefoil:

Pretty Cinquefoil Ponteilla pulcherrima

Wooley Cinquefoil Pontilla hippiana
Notice the gray-green leaves with fine hairs covering te leaves.

James' Cliffbush Jamesii americana

Inflated Penstemon Penstemon inflatus

Ninebark Physocarpus monogynus

A Cliff Primose on lichen covered cliff

Cliff Primrose Primula rusbyi

Calypso, Fairy Slipper Orchid Calypso bubosa
Death Camus   Zigadenus venenosus
(Poisonous. Be careful, looks similar to wild onions)
Geyer's Wild Onion Allium geyeri (buds)
Rattlesnake Orchid Goodyera oblongifolia
Red Elderberry Sambrucus racemosa v. microbotrys
Lambert's Locoweed Oxytrophis lambertii
Locoweed flower has double keel,
Vetch does not have this keel