Spring's Winding Path

Northern Utah's journey through the seasons can travel a winding path, and this year is no exception. Following a long and glorious fall, we've experienced 70 degree days in February, more precipitation than we'll soon know what to do with once the run-off starts in earnest, turbulent winds that toss garbage cans like toys, and snow on Memorial Day. Yes, snow on Memorial Day! As I look out my window the ground is blanketed with a thin layer of white, and I can only hope that my tender basil and tomato plants survive to bask in the sunlight that's promised to arrive later this week.

Despite the cool and rainy spring, we have managed to get outside and "enjoy nature". Spring and early summer are amazing in this high mountain desert. The valley's floor and benches are lush and green, and the mountains are capped in white. Yesterday we stole time before dinner guests arrived to walk up the gravel road to the north of our home and marvel at the display of early spring wildflowers.

We came across wild carrots, foothills death camus (well, it looks nice!), ballhead waterleaf, and other spring wildflowers that I couldn't identify. But the most notable bloomers were the balsamroot. Their brilliant yellow display covering the foothills is what drew us out for the walk to begin with.

When I started looking at the plants more closely, I noticed that, while all the flowers more or less looked the same, there were two distinct patterns of leaves on the plants. Later last night, I got out my plant books (and then resorted to "googling") to distinguish between the two plants. One is the arrowleaf balsamroot (the name I've always used for the plants) and the other is the cutleaf balsamroot.

Cutleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza macrophylla)
Arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata)
Inspiration for my glass and other "artistic endeavors" abound in Northern Utah, and I always return from our forays into nature with one thousand ideas bouncing around my head. On what is sure to be a lazy and laid back Memorial Day, I'm planning to pull out my tools and get to work. Maybe the snow is not so bad after all!

Happy holiday,


Death Camus (Zigadenus paniculatus)

Ballhead Waterleaf (hydrophyllum capitatum)

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