After so many days and even weeks of cloudy gray skies, there was a little sun today. Our thermometer recorded a low reading of 13°F last night though and even with the sun it didn’t become a warm day. Still, the appearance of the sun warranted another visit to Buttercup ridge, and that resulted in a look at the first wildflower blossoms of 2012! Apparently even temperatures in the teens don’t discourage the hardy little Sagebrush Buttercups: four were in full bloom.
In a shady place on a cliff just down off the ridge top, Nature had arranged a different kind of display too, an icy one, as a reminder that winter hasn’t yet totally surrendered to spring:
Although this may look something like a series of fountains, it is really a display of naturally formed ice on the side of a cliff about three hundred feet above the bottom of a small canyon. They are formed by water from small seeps through the rock, aided to some extent by snow-melt, which drip and trickle down, freezing over months of cold nights into icicles. I would estimate that the taller ones are six to ten feet tall.
Today was cloudy and cool, not snowing, not raining, not really cold, and not sunny, but I decided to visit Buttercup Ridge, a tiny ridge top where this area’s very first buttercups bloom each spring. And this one is ready, just waiting for the next sunny day:
I had visited there on February 4th, and then it had looked like this:
In addition to the Buttercups, in a small clear place amidst the snow that still blankets most of the ridge, I found that Nature has created a tiny arrangement of lichens and winter moss just for the pleasure of anyone who would take the time and make the effort to visit Her special little ridge.
Last night as I sat at the computer I noticed a slight motion just to my left. A tiny moth (measuring about a quarter of an inch from wingtip to wingtip) had landed on the desk beside me. It had a rather pleasing silverish look to its wings, which also seemed to have an unusual configuration. It stayed around long enough for a photo. I had never noticed anything with that kind of wing before. Today, it took me over an hour to identify it: (my skills at identifying insects are sadly under par). After looking at 235 pages of insect photos, on the very last page, the very last photo, was a picture of Alucita montana, a Six-plume moth.