The mule’s ears are still babies.

I’ve been up in the mountains, at Mr. and Mrs. C’s cabin. Several times I’ve written about our cabin stays at Lake Tahoe, and the previous posts had more interesting photos and reports. They are from May 2013, May 2012, and Sept 2011. This time I couldn’t seem to focus my documentarist skills, but I did have some noteworthy experiences.

This was the first time to have snow! As we reached Echo Summit on Highway 50 (7382 ft.) the snow began to fall, while clumps of older snow were at the same time dropping from the trees because of the recent rain.

Echo summit snow trees rocks 5-6-14

We couldn’t hear the clumps fall, though – Everything was too soft and fluffy to make an impression on our ears.

We two couples drove to the Nevada side of the lake to Virginia City, as we had done in 2011. It’s not very photogenic, because the interesting old buildings are full of too many shops full of junk. But if you used to enjoy the “Bonanza” TV show, you might remember that Virginia City was the closest town to the fictional Ponderosa Ranch. This map that I photographed in the cabin is confusing in that North is not at the top of the image.Ponderosa E of Tahoe

We didn’t come up completely short as we strolled through town, because we all found some treasures in a rock shop: bracelets, bookends and an onyx box made from stones that came from all over the world. We drove around the residential area down the hill from the rickety old boardwalk and the most beautiful things were the many lilac bushes in full bloom of every possible color.

Back down in the forest by the lake, the wooly mule's ears Tahoe 5-7-14squaw carpet is in bloom, and most of the mule’s ears are still babies. I thought their little fuzzy leaves were very dear.

I liked walking around the neighborhood of the cabin, where tall Ponderosa and Jeffrey pines have dropped big cones all over the yards and streets. In every place that squaw carpet was blooming, spreading phlox (Phlox diffusa) was right there trying to steal the show.

spreading phlox and squaw carpet
(purple) squaw carpet and (white) spreading phlox

Many of the public beaches on the lake are still closed, but one day we parked on the highway and walked through the forest on to this beach so that we could throw sticks – or actually, small logs — to the dog Cali.

Kiva Beach 2014

The mountains above still have their frosting of snow, but spring is here, and the weather is warming up. Soon the tourists will arrive, but we are gone….and home again.

12 thoughts on “The mule’s ears are still babies.

  1. I do believe one of the prettiest spots in the whole world. I need to get back up there. I do like the pictures of the mule ears.
    That is funny, I have been thinking of Virginia City. I haven’t been there since I was a kid and I would like to see it again. The first time I saw it in 1960 I was little. It was just a ghost town but people were beginning to change it the next time I went back I was a teenager. It was a tourist trap then. It would be interesting to see it again.
    I like seeing all of your travels.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Snow sounds so exotic to me right now! I was very intrigued by the title of your blog so had to read it to find out how a mule’s ears could be babies. And when I did, I remembered that I bought a donkey’s tail at the nursery last month to plant in a tall narrow pot. It is probably more of an adolescent than a baby, but has a long way to grow still. Funny things we name our plants!

    Happy Mother’s Day to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We have the same phlox growing on the prairie right now. There’s not much competition for it other than grass, and since it’s been still quite cold here, even the grass is slow growing. It’s always fun to see what’s blooming wherever you are!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, the softness of mule’s ears – what a wonderful memory! Some of my favorite memories of the Sierras are seeing it all through the windows of the Amtrak Zephyr train to Chicago, although I have been on the ground in the Sierras many times over my life. The lovely odor of the ponderosa pines is unforgettable!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Around here, we call those soft plants lamb’s ear! The last photo with the blue sky and white clouds and snow capped mountains…is just beautiful!!!


    1. At the “infant” stage the mule’s ears do resemble lamb’s ears, but they are a different plant. This article shows the mule’s ear’s when they are flowering
      and so does another post of mine:

      While I was confirming this I discovered that Lamb’s Ears are not the same thing as mullein, as I had previously thought.

      I’m guessing that your lamb’s ears are the sort I have in my garden, like here:

      Now I hope I will remember that it’s a species of *Stachys*:

      I’m sure that was more than you wanted to know!!


      1. I love mules ears and their sunflower family relatives. They make me happy just remembering their cheerful faces in the foothills of Mt Veeder. They aren’t “beautiful” per se. but sunny everyday flowers that bring a touch of sunshine wherever you find them.

        In Common Edible and Useful Plants of the West, Muriel Sweet says that the Native Americans in west used the roots as food, emetics and poultices but never used the leaves internally as they are poisonous.
        Thanks Gretchen for reviving my love of wild flowers!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never heard of mule’s ear, only lamb’s ear, which is also silvery green and very softly strokable. Perhaps they’re the same plant with two names on opposite sides of the country?


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