Saturday, March 14, 2009

Where have all the flowers gone?

File photo of poppies from March 21, 2005

Today is the annual Franklin Mountains Poppies Celebration. It's that time of year when the wild poppies bloom here in the desert on the slopes of the Franklins. While we live in a very suburbanized area, we are extremely fortunate to be only three blocks away from this open desert. That's because there exists unexploded army ordinance from the mid-20th century beneath this beauty, once an artillery practice area.

And this is the wonderful advantage of that: Before drooling developers can litter the mountainsides with more of their endless strip mall sprawl like that on our valley's floor, the government must first clear the land of hazardous explosives which could prove extremely costly. Wow, could it be -- there actually exists an advantage to not cleaning up a waste site?

Poppy-less photo from this past Thursday.

Thursday my editor Sam sent me on assignment to shoot some photos as preview for this weekend's annual poppy celebration. Sam said he'd tag along, help me select good shots. (I suspect Sam had ulterior motives, i.e., it was an excuse for a walk.)

As you can see, the poppies are a no-show. One of my faults is always trying to reason why these things happen. I wondered if the poppy-less landscape might be some kind of flora protest at the fact we're still at war, escalating our losing efforts in the "Stans", Afghani and Paki. I concluded that's probably unlikely as the mountain slopes of 2005 occurred at a time when we were successfully blowing the shit out of Iraq and Iraqis.

Perhaps it's the dismal economy with the resulting dire implications for an empire collapsing in on itself, but I doubt that too.

I've concluded this year's poppy-less slopes are most likely from lack of rain and that most poppy seeds have decided to take this year off. I don't think Nature really gives a damn what the hell we humans do.

So when Sam and I returned home, I took this picture of a lone poppy that had sprouted through a crack in our sidewalk. I suddenly had a new appreciation for this year's crop, such that as I was trimming out front later, I didn't have the heart to mow down this "weed."


xandtrek said...

We've got to come up with a better conspiracy theory than no rain. I think "they" have developed a biological weapon to wipe out poppies in the "stans" and are trying it in the Franklin Mountains first.

Dada said...

xandtrek: OMG! I think you may really be onto something. Afghanistan -- poppies! The connection never occurred to me, yet the connection is inescapable.

Northeast El Paso is most likely an unwitting participant in some government black budget experimental program to totally eradicate poppy derived drugs from the face of the Earth -- even if, whatever they use to accomplish that, causes breast and prostate cancers in men and women - irrespectively - and hyperactivity and autism in children. (No price is too big to deprive Afghanistan of their only valued, money producing export on the world market, I suppose.)

Thanks for the great insight!

D.K. Raed said...

you are in a many-year drought, no? does it date back to 2001? If so, BINGO, for the conspiracy theory!

we had great wildflowers in San Diego in the Borrego Springs desert ... but it was not every year ... if you signed up, the parks dept would notify you each year of when the wildflowers were expected to bloom so you could plan to mob the area along with a million or so other people, lining the roads like they'd never noticed the calif poppies growing wild along the freeways and so had to travel a couple hours to inflict themselves on the fragile desert to see the blooms! We had tons of wild lilac bushes growing on the hills around our avocado grove. I get kind of homesick around this time of year, can you tell?

Fran said...

Oregon is down 18 inches of annual rainfall this year, so far, although you could not tell by today's relentless gusting non stop rain.

Poppies are perennials, so they should keep on blooming, even if sparse in some years.
Hmm looks like some grass has taken over & become the dominant plant species?

Nah It HAS to be a government conspiracy.

Dada said...

Yeh, I guess we're in a drought, DK. I know we hadn't gotten any rain this year (.01"), but we got a little this past week, but most likely too late for the poppies.

Good observation, Fran. As Sam and I walked the trails, the thing that amazed me most was all the grass. I don't ever remember that in prior years and I was left wondering if there WERE poppies, would they even show up thru the grass?

Border Explorer said...

I feel so cheated. We have not had a great poppy year in the three I've been here. In fact, the "show" seems to get worse every year. I guess I'll just HAVE to keep returning until I finally get to see a great display.

Dada said...

B.E. -- Hang in there, i.e., keep coming back! (Actually, we haven't had a good poppy year since the horrific floods of 2006 when -- I suspect -- a lot of poppy seeds got washed off the mountain down into the neighborhoods where they now spring up in places like the cracks of sidewalks!)