Nature Adapts in a Hostile Environment
Early this spring I made a return visit to Lee Hot Springs because I was curious to see what if any wildflowers or plants might be coming out of dormancy. The days and nights have warmed significantly, almost to where they used to be in the month of June. Gone were the frozen puddles along the dirt path and the snow covered slopes were turning a lush green. However much to my surprise on this warm April day, the steam was still flowing from the 185°f, 85°c water.
The small primitive, un-developed geothermal system is hardly large enough for bathing or soaking but it does serve as a fascinating reminder of the volcanism that shaped this landscape millions of years ago.
Walking closer to the stream, I noticed a small variety of green bushes that were thriving in the sandy, silt covered ground.
Contrary to popular belief that deserts are dry, barren wastelands, what I found amazing was the tenacity of nature to adapt and thrive in all kind of conditions. By reducing the size of leaves as with the Greasewood or replacing them with thorns like in the Hop-sage, loss of water to the air (transportation) is kept to a minimum.
Desert perennials like the Birdcage Evening Primrose remain dormant during dry spells and then come to life when water is available.
A Mallow "cheeseweed" grows at the base of a Tufa rock. The mallow is an edible plant, both the leaves and immature fruit can be used in salads or cooked with some olive oil and garlic.
Even in the hot, alkaline water, native grass survives along the bank while algae flourishes on the stream bed.
It might be interesting to make a return visit during the hottest part of summer in July to check out the biological diversity at Lee Hot Springs. If the mid-summer monsoons come again this year, who knows what might be waiting to be discovered within these unique micro-systems.
For additional reading on Lee Hot Springs:
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With my Nikon and tripod, my goal is to recreate the scene as it appears in nature, to preserve in a photographic image the awesome, yet simplistic beauty of the scene that waits around a bend or over a hill. Sometimes it's a colorful landscape, and many times I'm allowed in the presence of the numerous creatures that adapt to life in the wild.
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"Reflecting Nature's Artistry"