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When your birthday is on the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring, you might have some expectations for the day. I got it in my head that I wanted to see sagebrush buttercups – one of the first wildflowers that shows up in our shrub-steppe habitats. Well never mind that here at our house, there is still over a foot of snow on the ground. Wet, rotten, sloppy snow. Spring birds like bluebirds, phoebes, juncos and others have arrived so it does sound like spring but right now as I type this, it is snowing. Again. I keep thinking I am done with winter but it’s clearly not done with me.

So if I wanted to see buttercups, I was going to have go somewhere else. I went east and north to McLaughlin Canyon, near Tonasket. The day started out sunny but was soon overcast and breezy and fairly cold at 37° Fahrenheit. Good walking weather. There were a few patches of snow and there was lots of water everywhere. I imagine in the summer this place is very dry and full of rattlesnakes so this was a good time to visit. Melting snow sent cascades of water over the cliff faces and in the shady spots, the rocks and shrubs were covered with ice.

Shortly after I arrived I heard the wonderful song of the Canyon Wren! Have you heard them? Listen here. I heard several others while I walked. The trail starts in a narrow section of the canyon and all that water found its way to the path so it was a bit of a struggle to keep my feet dry. I was somewhat dismayed by all the weeds. This area burned in 2015 when much of Okanogan County was on fire and its recovery is slow. I did see that some pine trees have been recently planted so hopefully they will grow quickly and hold the ground in place during spring flooding.

I walked til I was overlooking the bottom of the canyon and the Okanogan River. Still no buttercups. The hill below me was steep and not appealing for walking but it did look warmer and dryer than the ground I’d been walking on. I used my binoculars to scan the hillside and sure enough, a good two hundred feet below me, I saw the bright yellow color of the buttercups. I found them. It was worth the climb down and back up.

The dogs had great fun exploring a new place and so did I. We were all grateful to be walking on dirt again.

Afterwards, we drove down valley and managed to find some Sandhill Cranes in the snow. It is the time of year when they migrate through this region but most years, the lakes and ponds are thawed and the ground is mostly snow-free. I imagine they are having trouble finding enough food to eat.

And here at home today it is still snowing. Big, fat, fluffy flakes. Winter needs a new calendar.

3 Comments

  1. Happy Birthday! Great post xxx

    https://colourpotblog.wordpress.com/

  2. Happy Birthday kiddo! And many more….


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