Thinking about my next project . . .

Yellow mushrooms found on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona, while hiking in nature.

Mushrooms are a classic autumn subject!

Fall is not far away here in the high desert. Overnight temperatures are back in the 50s. The roadside is full of yellow and purple asters. And of course, the chamisa is starting to bloom.

One day while we were on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the photography group headed out in search of bison. The buffalo were camera-shy that afternoon, so the photographers worked on creating abstract patterns with aspen trunks. In the meantime, I looked on the ground for inspiring plants and flowers.

Yellow, coral-shaped fungus or wild mushroom, found while hiking at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Does anyone know what species of fungus or mushroom this is? It resembles a sponge or coral.

The bright ochre yellow of these mushrooms and fungi really stood out against the detritus of the forest floor and the gray, drizzly skies!

Both of these would make exciting subjects for a botanical watercolor, don’t you think?

Wildflower Wednesday: I got my eye on you

A 2-inch tall cactus growing by the side of a heavily used trail sprouts flower buds.

I spy with my little eye: This tiny cactus has 5 minute flower buds forming.

Two weeks ago, the Wrenaissance Man spotted this 2-inch tall cactus on the side of a neighborhood trail. Last Friday, we returned to check out its status. Thanks to recent snow and rain showers, there are now 5 itty-bitty flower buds waiting to bloom!

The great thing about walking with the Scottish terrorists every day is that I can scout out likely plants to paint, then return to photograph and/or sketch when the time is right. It helps to have the Wrenaissance Man’s sharper eyesight along for the scouting expedition!

Spring in New Mexico is a hidden season. With the exception of the spectacular white and pink blooms of the fruit trees planted by the early Spanish and Anglo pioneers, the landscape appears barren, wearing the same gray and brown as it did all winter. To discover spring, you must look closely at the ground around your feet. The early-flowering plants grow in tiny rosettes and clumps, huddled against the ground in tiny south-facing hollows for protection from the wind and increased moisture and solar warmth.

 Update:

Welcome to visitors from Gail Eichelberger’s Wildflower Wednesday link party! Be sure to check out the Clay and Limestone trio of pink phlox, cadmium yellow ragwort, and scarlet-yellow bi-colored columbine. That’s a bold palette!

BTW, Blogspot garden bloggers–I’d love to leave a comment after I visit you, but it may not be possible. As a self-hosted WordPress.org blog, I have no OpenID, and the Name/URL option doesn’t always work for me (still haven’t figured why, maybe Safari vs. Google?). Certainly understand your need to have a defense against spam, though.

On my walk: Chamisa Trail hike

A view of a boulder in the Santa Fe National Forest on Chamisa Trail.

The snow has melted from the lower slopes of the Santa Fe Ski Basin. Spring hiking season can begin!

This weekend we took our cell of Scottish terrorists up Hyde Park Road for some training maneuvers in the Santa Fe National Forest. The pups loved it, as always. The icy chill of meltwater in Tesuque Creek does not deter them in the least from jumping in and splashing about in the shallow stream. And what could be better than getting your feet muddy after you’ve gotten them nice and wet? 😉

A black and a wheaten Scottish terrier playing on a boulder.

After a refreshing dip in an icy stream, 0ur Scottish terrierists dry off in the sun of a mountain meadow.

Wildflowers are just now coming into bloom. I noted 4 different species.

Wild strawberries start blooming in April in New Mexico's mountains.

I think these are wild strawberries.

 

Mountain wildflowers in April in the Santa Fe National Forest.

These little white stars are about the size of a pinhead. You really have to keep a sharp eye open to spot the early bloomers.

Thorny leaves like holly or mahonia, yellow blooms. This small shrub could be Fremont's barberry.

The thorny, holly-like leaves and yellow buds belong to Fremont’s barberry.

White wildflower, multi-flower umbral flower head, clover-like, found on the forest floor in New Mexico.

The florets in the umbral make you think of clover, don’t they?

I was such a dolt! I brought my big camera with macro lens and forgot to take it out to document this little beauty! >:-(

In my defense, though, I was being yanked down the trail by 20-lbs of Scottish muscle. Pausing to set up a careful series of macro shots on a narrow hiking trail would have been difficult.

While we took a short break at the meadow, I pulled out my sketchbook and drew the creek bed.

Moleskine sketchbook spread of a mountain landscape.

A very quick sketch of Tesuque Creek. I took just enough time to note the verticals of the multi-trunked trees and the rough spheres of the creek bed rocks.

I had only a few minutes to jot down the essential elements of the scene while the Scottish terrorists dried off from their swim.

All in all, it was a great way to spend a morning of Easter weekend!

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