Life Among the Rubble

Bitterroot Flowers (Lewisia rediviva) Cascade Mountains, WA

Summer has come late this year in the Pacific Northwest. While much of the country has been sweltering, it has been cool and rainy here, well into July when – despite our soggy reputation – it is usually dry and sunny. The snowpack this past winter was enormous and many alpine areas are still a month away from melting out.

Yesterday I ventured up into the mountains near my home to look for one of my favorite flowers – the Bitterroot – which appears every year in late June along a barren rocky ridge top.  There were a few flowers, including this handsome cluster, but the peak bloom will probably be another week away, fully three weeks late. (Keep this in mind if you are planning to hit the legendary Mt. Rainier flowers this summer – they are likely to be 3-4 weeks late as well)

I love this spot because the flowers are set into a basalt talus slope that forms a clean, unobtrusive background for the delicate Lewisia blooms.  The rocks also tell a story : of life asserting itself even in the most hostile environments. I could have moved in for a close-up, but including more of the background gave a better sense of place, and story.

For once, I didn’t have to worry about carrying a diffuser: it was a misty, windless day in the mountains, perfect for flowers. Maybe the summer sun will arrive one of these days, but today I was happy that it stayed away.

Nikon D3, 60mm macro lens at f22