Tag Archives: mullein

My Colorado explorations.

Royal Penstemon

I’m the opposite of bored here in Colorado with my son’s family, but I have had a terrible yawning problem since I arrived ten days ago. It must be the altitude (7300′), which I will blame for the sleepiness that comes over me at times, too.

Today was the least yawny and sleepy. Soldier drove us south a bit to a lower elevation, where we also enjoyed warmer weather while we played around at the Royal Gorge. Maybe everyone has heard about this canyon above which a suspension bridge was built in 1929, 955 feet above the bottom, where the Arkansas River flows along a single railroad track.

It was another happy chance to identify wildflowers and plants.  I’ve been doing that a lot.

Beardtongue Penstemon

This penstemon called Beardtongue is all over around the Gorge.
Also cholla cactus and prickly pear.

Starvation Prickly Pear

There were a lot of fun things to do at the Royal Gorge park. We all rode the gondola across the gorge, and before walking back across the pedestrian bridge the children played on giant slides and tunnels, and rode the carousel. I took pictures of plants — and grandchildren, of course.


All week I’ve just been hanging around with the tribe doing much of what they do, or merely observing the more rambunctious activities of the boys, and listening to little Clara’s feminine conversation.

The cold and rainy weather has passed. The last of it was the evening we sat bundled up with coats and blankets to watch Liam’s Little League game out on the plains. Now the temps are moving into the high 70’s, and I can get sunburned sitting on the deck so close to the sun.

Desert Madwort
Stemless Point-vetch

Many of the wildflowers I’ve identified are scrubby looking sorts with the most diminutive flowers. Also the beautiful blue Royal Penstemon at top, which we discovered just down the path from the karate studio while Liam was in class, along with purple Stemless Point-vetch. Magpies, robins, flickers and Mountain Chickadees flit and sing among the pines and firs and spruces that grow thick in the neighborhood.

Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pine

Just at the edge of the back yard is a giant clump of White Willow trees where the boys play. Laddie told me about the Bible studies he likes to have with their rabbit stuffie in particular, on a rock in the middle, encircled by more than a dozen trunks arching up and away.

Yesterday everyone was digging and planting in hills and boxes, so I gave Brodie one of his birthday presents early: a pair of kids’ work gloves. He wore them all day, long after all the work was done, he loves them so.


A wolf spider with an egg sac was disturbed by the digging and ran away from the squash hills. This evening while I was with Clara under the play structure in the back yard, I saw a Cutworm Wasp digging a hole in the sand that had escaped the sandbox. I decided not to show you the wasp’s unremarkable photo, but will close with the spider, because that sleepiness is coming over me again, and tomorrow is another big day. Happy June!

Fall ramblings to the north.

For five days and nights I drove here and there, a total of about 20 hours on the roads and highways so that I could visit with twelve family members and two dear friends in three places. There was a good deal of time spent at Pippin’s, where we went for a walk right away, to see if the aspens in the nearby grove were turning yet.

The aspens were still green, but as we looked up in the blue sky we saw several vultures flying in a line above us… and several more following close after them, and we began to count… eventually about 30 of the birds had streamed past, making us wonder what it could mean.

Little Jamie was thrilled when a long freight train passed close above us on the track.

In just a short time exploring the neighborhood we saw Showy Milkweed about to pop its pods, ruins of a concrete hut, and mullein, first and second year specimens growing close together. Scout has been studying herbs in his homeschool group program and I learned that if you can find some larger leaves on the younger plant they make good bandages for wounds, not least because they are absorbent.

Can you see why I called these Mrs. Tiggy Winkle Burrs?

Jeffrey Pine cone and seed

The next day I drove a little farther north to my Oregon family and watched my oldest granddaughter Annie in her first cross country meet of the season. The setting and the weather were so perfect, most of my pictures show her as a soft shape blending into the golden landscape.

I reveled in more visits with those children and older grandchildren, hearing from them about an Italian sister-city, doula training, country music, 70’s Ford trucks grandson Walt is dreaming of restoring, and the same boy breaking an old horse for children to ride. Two of the grandsons have plans to fix up a truck to sleep in on upcoming ski trips. Most of my six older grandsons own or have owned or plan to buy a truck, or another truck! I love boys.

We picked apples at a farm, took walks to the library and post office, and ate tender pumpkin bread Walt decided to bake on the first day of fall. Sunday morning six of us made the short trip on foot to church, I being the only one of the family not wearing cowboy boots.

With my taste buds in mind, Pathfinder and Iris had bought some ginger beer — not the carbonated sweet and spicy kind, but this smooth alcoholic version. It was wonderful.

Then it was time to head back to Pippin’s, for the birthday of Ivy!!! Ivy is now five years old, and if my grandma were still alive, she would have turned 125 on the same day. Before the excitement of the evening, including an over-the-top leopard cake and oodles of presents, Pippin and Ivy and I had a quiet outing of the kind we all like, exploring a meadow and a creek, and feeding the fish at the hatchery.

A couple of weeks before my visit, Ivy had dictated a letter to me, including these lines: “I have new shoes…and they’re good for running, climbing, hiking, and also for walks. I really want to take a walk with you — I know you love them!”

We arrived at the fish hatchery just as a man was about to refill the fish food machines, so he filled our containers directly and to the top. We strolled along the ponds and tried to share equally among all the different sizes of trout.

Then Ivy fell in! She lost her usual cool and made a big fuss, because she thought the fish would bite her. The fish, however, cleared the area very fast, as Pippin and I hauled our girl out.

We exchanged her sopping shirt and fleece for my flannel and corduroy shirt, and that warmed her up enough that she was cheerful again, and happy to stay and scatter the remainder of the granules — in the next pond where the fish hadn’t been scared away — looking at the creatures with a new perspective.

I took the picture above because I’d never seen a trout with such severe scoliosis.

After a stop at home to get a whole new set of dry shoes and clothes, we went back to our exploring, in a meadow with a stream running through, where Pippin and I watched Ivy take risks climbing above a tiny waterfall where she might easily fall and get doused again, but she showed her usual grace and balance and came home dry.

Douglas Spirea fills the foreground above, its formerly hot pink flowers turned to rust. All the textures and scents, the variations on gold, beige and brown seemed especially rich and sweet, set off by the blue sky and evergreen shrubs and trees. The surrounding air was fresh and cool in the slanted sunlight of fall.

We were happy.