Palabras Pintorescas: What is next with our crazy weather?

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By Editha Bartley

The middle of June did not come and go quietly here in our mountains. The rains, even brief showers have left this area brilliant green, with our mountain grasses high and already starting to head out. I continue to wonder: what is next with our crazy weather?
I have a struggling crab apple tree and two aspen trees in my big yard. Mother Nature’s switch has been turned on, somewhat late this spring. A late frost killed off all but about a dozen apple blooms and now I have discovered this is the year for the aspens to try and take over the corner of my yard. There are sprouts coming up everywhere. The largest Aspen, moved from our nearby forest, has obviously thrived, and this year it took a very different appearance. There were no budding leaf buds, and it suddenly burst into bloom, if that is what one can call it. The small couple of inch long stems had very small buds (or were they blooms) on them. Bright green leaves soon popped out and I forgot about this change-of-pace aspen.
However, much to my surprise, a researcher form our John Harrington tree research facility in Mora came along one day very recently, looking for blooming Aspens that have healthy catkins on them. She has hiked in this area so she knows where the big Aspen groves are, and she thought she would soon fill a container with these catkins, complete with seeds about to burst out and blow away. My American Heritage Dictionary defines a catkin as: “A dense, often drooping cluster of scalelike flowers, found in willows, birches and oaks.” If my memory serves me correctly, I think aspens are a distant cousin of birch trees.
Surprise of surprises! The catkins on my lonely aspen tree were about the only catkins my friend found, after hours of hiking and looking for them. And had she been a day or two later, the tiny seed would have already been blown away. I hope the seeds will reproduce under laboratory conditions. We will learn in time just what Mother Nature has in store for them.
I thought the drought and winter freezes had killed off the wild Iris blooms, but they, too thrived because of it, apparently. Our hay meadows were solid blue a couple of weeks ago. The purple, pink verbena north of Storrie Lake was also a surprise to many of us. That event really was a carpet of color for a week or longer. The high mountain snow-pack  is melting very fast, and a three day, gentle rain would be most welcome now.
And in closing, my doctor father often said that death comes with the changing of the seasons. It just came here with my dog Tinta’s death. All of her bodily systems failed, and she peacefully went to dog heaven. She was 14, and that is 98 years old in human years. She was a great ranch dog, and now she is in a better place. Rest in peace old friend!

Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.