Rain and renewal

Summer in Gothic has been hot and dry, paralleling warming trends seen globally.

wind

Strong winds have been blowing dust onto every surface, and the biting flies remain.

dust

For two weeks we had no rain at all. Until a few days ago, when the monsoon returned, bringing moisture from the Pacific Ocean, and clouds to the mountains.

cloud making

Three days of rain, thunder, and the magical smell of wet soil were our prize.

clouds

The storms brought change to these landscapes. The soil surface rapidly saturated in many places, leading to sheet flow of water. And the subalpine firs (Abies lasiocarpa), many with dry or dead needles, shed most onto the forest floor.

runoff

For other species like this sunflower, the rain washed away a thick layer of dust, restoring photosynthetic rates.

dust gone

And for others like this monument plant (Frasera speciosa), were partly blown down, but received much-needed moisture.

frasera

The rain has been good for rescuing some plants from drought-induced mortality. This silver lupine (Lupinus argenteus) ramet is now growing well in bare gravel saturated with moisture.

growth

But for others, the rain has come too late. The yellow patch in this photo is a clone of Veratrum tenuipetalum, leaves dead and crisp from the dry period. Its apical meristems have died and it will not grow more this year, though next year will bring another chance to resprout from rooting stock.

crisp

I felt deadened by these two weeks of hot and dry conditions. But now the rain has returned, and with it, my joy for working here. There is more life and summer yet to come.

dawn

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