The hawk dropped down to the shoulder of the road just ahead of where I was driving down the mountain. It was at the elevation where you start to see the elderberries that don’t grow much higher, about 6,000 feet. He carried something in his talons that touched the ground just before he did.
I didn’t see any cars in my rear view mirror, so I slowed to a stop in the middle of the road and looked out the window at him, a few feet away on the other side of the road. He looked calmly at me. I should say, he looked in my direction, because I don’t know… what if I were the first human he had ever seen? Does a bird focus on another creature’s face and eyes, the way a human baby does? I stared and he looked a little bored, for ten long seconds, and then he flew into a tree nearby.
That meeting was one of the exciting events of my drive down from the mountains this week. I’d stayed at the cabin two more nights after my family departed, and had anticipated that when I finally left I would do my typical stop-and-go meandering for at least the first few thousand feet of descent, say, from 8,000 to 5,000 feet elevation. Because in July there are many more wildflowers than in September, the month in which I most often have visited this part of the High Sierra.
When the rain began to fall, and fell harder the morning I was to leave, it seemed my plans would have to change, and I might only be collecting rocks for my garden, instead of wildflower pictures. I always love rain at the cabin, so I did not complain at all. And it surely wouldn’t be a bad thing if I got home sooner rather than later. But — about the time I’d finished closing up the place and packing my car, the clouds began to break up, so that this was my last view of the lake:
The first wildflower I found, one I hadn’t seen for years, was Mountain Pride, bordering the road. It and Wavyleaf Paintbrush had few flowers remaining, but they provided a bright contrast to the sky, water and granite. This is a picture of them taken four years ago nearly to the day, in the same place. The snow melted earlier this year, as there was not much of it, so the bloom peaked before I got here.
I noticed or met for the first time no fewer than 18 different species of wildflowers that day, most of which I wrote down in a little notebook each time I got back into my car to drive further along the road, going slow and keeping my eyes open for spots of color, or whatever else might appear. Some of the flowers that I won’t show you were:
My favorite flower of the day by far was Bigelow’s Sneezeweed, a darling thing which I first saw in this area many years ago. I pulled over for it several times, and the last time was the best display, with bees and two kinds of butterflies drinking at the blooms.
One of them was the Field Crescent, of whom I didn’t get a good shot, but here is one I found online of this little insect:
Should Nature at times, on our awakening, propose to us
The very thing to which we were disposed,
Then praise at once swells in our throats.
We feel we are in paradise.
The corn lilies were blooming, and a beetle was on site for that glorious event, seeming to have lost its head over pollen:
Fireweed waved its purple flowers in the breeze. “It earned its name because this plant is the first colonizer in the soil after forest fires.”
This next picture shows an area ripe and ready for some fireweed to sprout and grow; it is a landscape resulting from the Creek Fire last fall.
That was the huge fire that necessitated closing the highway that we use to get to our cabin, the same week that Soldier’s family and I had planned to be up there. We went to the beach and took smoky pictures instead.
Already I saw wild roses blooming among the stumps, and this healthy milkweed:
I often have run across wildflowers with buckwheat as part of their common name. This page shows you how vast is that family, called Polygonaceae, that includes mountain sorrel, curly dock — and rhubarb, of all things. But the strange species I saw a lot of on my drive was Naked Buckwheat.
It has strong, wire-like stems that are tall and bare for most of their length, with white puff-balls at the tip.
I wanted to get a nice picture of the elder bushes in flower, and when I squeezed in close this bright and rather large beetle got my attention:
I began to think of all the fascinating and complex creatures that live their (often short) lives in “obscurity.” I bet no one else had ever seen that bug. God lavishes the earth with life and beauty as an expression of His generosity and love.
As I went down the mountain, it was like an hours-long birthday party with Him saying, “Stop here. See that flower? It’s one of the special gifts I’m giving you today.” Then, “Look there! A red and black bug I chose just for you.”
He gave me sneezeweed because they are my old friends. He introduced me to a hawk for something new. Butterflies fluttered, proposing the very thing to which I was disposed. This place was not paradise, we can tell that by the fire damage, and many other aspects. But there was a little taste of Paradise in my soul, and praise swelling in my heart.
10 thoughts on “The very thing.”
Perfect. What a delight it has been to be introduced to some of your wild flowers, insects and the hawk! I smiled at your comment about seeing the beetle, for I often think that I am the only person in the world to have seen (whatever it might be) at this particular time, doing that particular thing – and I feel blessed. The break away in that beautiful place and being with your family again must have restored you in many ways 🙂
I love your posts on flowers! so glad for you to have had such a soul-nourishing time!
Two lovely bugs just for you! It’s a treat to read your words! You are SUCH a sister🙏
I’m so glad the weather broke and you were able to enjoy these amazingly diverse and beautiful wildflowers, as well as the hawk! There really is so much we miss when we don’t slow down and take a minute to notice. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing the process with you. Your descriptions and pictures are just wonderful.
My goodness, all the variety of wildflowers! And what a name! Bigelow’s Sneezeweed. Sure captures the mind and eye!
I think it’s such a miracle that life springs up after a fire ravages the land. How?? I guess it’s those magical roots that God gave them. Or those magical seed pods that somehow protect the life inside them until conditions are right. And a beautiful hawk to sit and visit with. What a treat! And how kind of God to let the rains stop just before you left for home. I bet the air smelled divine afterwards. What a lovely end to your vacation!
I love the picture of your last view of the lake before you left your cabin. The hardest picture to see was the burned-out remains of the forest. Here in BC as in many other places we’re having terrible wildfires. They seem even worse than other years and the drought doesn’t help.
Wow, what a wonderful post! I am in awe of hawks! Period! And what a beautiful shot of the lake. You did, indeed, bring home some amazing wildflower pictures, such as the Wavyleaf Paintbrush and Bridges’ Penstemon, but did you bring home any rocks for your garden collection?
I love the idea of meandering down the mountain at your own pace, taking the time to stop and admire and notice those lovely flowers that would bloom just as beautifully if no one noticed them.
Not only did God gift you with these lovely parts of nature, but now you have gifted us with them, too.
What a gorgeous journey down the mountain. The wildflowers are spectacular but so, too, are the views and the insects you saw. What a wonderful way to end your holiday.