Three More Inches of Winter

Or 8 centimetres, whichever you prefer. The snow arrived last night and it was still falling this morning, turning our world white. Again. Yes, a sure sign of spring in Alberta.

A month ago we were hiking the Sonoran Desert, panting in the heat, searching for shade. The snakes and lizards were out — and a profusion of flowers. A much nicer view right now. 🙂

Blue palo verde
Blue palo verde
Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea
Evening primrose
Evening primrose
Chuparosa
Chuparosa
Brittlebush
Brittlebush
Strawberry hedgehog
Strawberry hedgehog
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Hang ‘Em High

On a trip to the desert yesterday with Jeff I found this speckled spider dangling in a clump of brittlebush. She was almost invisible among the flower stalks.

Using Jeff’s macro lens I was (sort of) able to capture her and parts of her web. A very shallow depth of field turned the clusters of sun-yellow flowers into a pale backdrop.

I handheld the big lens — it weighs more than the camera — so the focus is a tad off. But I’m pleased. Don’t know what the spider thought of it. 🙂

Rain Gauge

A leaf is a leaf is a … rain gauge? Yup. Sort of. Brittlebush leaves act like Ma Nature’s precip monitor. The drier it is, the smaller and whiter the leaves it produces. If the soil dries up too much the leaves drop off altogether.

The we’ve-got-enough-water leaves are dark green, almost hairless. Turn up the heat and turn off the tap and that changes quickly — the next leaves to appear will be greyer and covered by white hairs. Those two factors keep the leaves from overheating by reflecting the sunlight. The tiny hairs also trap moisture.

I took the leaf shots this morning just as the rain started — the wet leaves really show the colour contrast.

leaves-2

Brittlebush is one of the most common plants on the Sonoran Desert. It grows in a half moon shape, like an upsidedown bowl. That shape and the profusion of eye-popping yellow flowers make it easily recognizable.

The image below shows what happens to a single bush when it moves into town and onto a lot where the owner waters plants. Wow. 🙂

brittlebush


Brittlebush   Encelia farninosa
Chuparosa    Justicia californica (aka Beloperone californica)
Palo verde   Parkinsonia aculeata