Today’s Treasure

The first California poppy of the season!

One poppy does not make a poppy field, but it’s a start, right? I never particularly liked these small poppies, having grown up with the large red floppy-petaled poppies, but after my visit several years ago to the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve, I developed a fondness for the smaller flower. In massive numbers, they look like a sunset fallen to earth, and oh, it sure was something to see.

I won’t be able to duplicate those fields of color, of course, but since the plants seem to do well here (and no wonder, the two climates — the high prairie of Colorado and the high desert of California — are similar) I should be able to create small patches of a blooming sunset.

But that’s for the future. Today is about enjoying the first poppy of the season as well as the first dwarf snapdragon, another of the seeds in the wildflower mix I planted last December. When they say dwarf, they mean it. These flowers are tiny — no bigger than a bee (hence the rather blurry photo). If they weren’t part of the mixture, I wouldn’t have been interested in planting such small flowers. They don’t really add much color to the yard, but since they are an annual, it doesn’t really matter. I’ll enjoy them this year, assuming, of course, I can see them.

The first bellflowers, another flower from the wildflower mix, have also bloomed. Not as big as a poppy. Not as small as a dwarf snapdragon. But so pretty. Maybe I could do a whole patch of these, too.

This ice plant wasn’t part of the wildflower mix; it was something I bought last year just because I liked the name. (Supposedly, it’s called an ice plant because it shimmers like ice.)

As if being able to see all these flowers poke their pretty faces up to the sun isn’t treat enough, today a friend stopped by to take a tour of my yard. I enjoyed showing the things I have done, the things my contractor did, and the things nature did. Somehow, it all works together to make something special. She’s been watching my garden take hold over the years, so it was fun seeing it through her eyes.

The yard was especially pretty today. I’d mowed this morning, so the lawn was nicely manicured, and the larkspur were at their peak. It won’t be long before the larkspur grows too tall and top heavy, so it would behoove me to get garden stakes if I don’t want a leaning garden. (That happened last year. The winds caused the plants to grow slantwise.)

So, those are the treasures of this day. I can hardly wait to see what treasures tomorrow will bring.


Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Blogging, Writing, Planning

This doesn’t seem to be a night for writing a blog — I’ve been sitting here playing games for the last hour with a totally blank mind — and yet, I hate to break the habit of daily blogging. It’s one of my few creative disciplines, and generally, if I let myself take a night off, the next thing I know, weeks have gone by without a single post.

To be honest, I already broke the string of daily blogs at about day 101, but since it was a mistake — I thought I posted something but didn’t — it didn’t affect the habit. But I suppose that raises the question — is it better to blog with nothing to say, or is it better to keep my computer closed?

Well, since I’m here, I might as well bring you up to date on the plans for my May trip. So far, I haven’t done much except schedule visits with friends on my way to Seattle. I had planned to camp at the Carrizo Plain National Monument, but the roads to campgrounds and dispersed camping areas are not paved, and I’m not sure I want to risk getting caught on muddy roads, especially since I would be there in the middle of the week when there would be no park personnel.

I’m thinking now I’ll drive in to the plain as far as I can on the paved road to see what if anything I can see — last year there was a super bloom of wildflowers, but this year, because of the lack of precipitation, they are not expecting much color at all. (Same with the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve, but one can hope! I sure would like to see those orange fields again.)

I might end up spending that first night in a motel, which doesn’t seem very adventurous, but I’m not sure I’d make it all the way up to The Pinnacles National Park, which was to be my next stop. (My map says it’s a national monument; apparently, somewhere along the way, it got a promotion.)

I still have weeks before I go, so I’m not particularly concerned about not having any plans yet. I wish I could be totally spontaneous, just take off and see what happens, but I know what would happen. I would drive until I couldn’t keep my eyes open, get a motel room, then finish the drive the next day. Admittedly, that sort of trip is its own form of adventure, but not the eye-satisfying, spirit-expanding commune with nature that I crave. And anyway, I might have to do that sort of drive on the return trip to get back before the Memorial Day weekend, and I’d prefer not to do it both ways.

Well, what do you know — I wrote a blog tonight after all. Now let’s see if I can manage to do my novel writing stint, too.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Faux, Faux Backpacking Trek

It feels like forever since I’ve been on one of my faux backpacking trips, as I’ve been calling my treks in the desert carrying a backpack filled with bottles of water. (Water, because it’s easy to control the weight since each 16.5 oz bottle weighs a pound — or, in honor of my Aussie friend, each 5 litre bottle weighs 500 grams. And water because if the pack becomes too exhausting to carry, I can lighten the load by pouring out the water.)

In reality, I’ve only missed one weekend (last weekend because of my state line adventure) and one day (today because of lunch with friends and a disinclination to spend much time in the bitterly cold winds).

Still, today hasn’t been a total hiking flop, though the trip has been all online — a faux, faux backpacking trek, so to speak. I’ve finally started printing out the maps and information I need for my camping trip in a couple of months, and already, after a single stop on this e-trip, I can see myself driving straight through to Seattle.

For the first day, I’d planned to drive by the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve to see if any poppies were still in bloom, though because of the lack of rain, there won’t be any “still” since the poor things might not bloom at all. In fact, as of right now, only a few plants have sprouted.

Then I planned to head to Carrizo Plain National Monument. I’d hoped, of course, to be able to see some wildflowers, though that wasn’t my real reason for the stop. (My real reason was that I’d never been there and it seemed a viable place to camp on the way to the coastal highway.) Here, too, it seems as if there will be no bloom, though last year the place bloomed with phenomenal colors, so much so that more than a hundred thousand people visited the plain to see the very unplain “super bloom.”

At least I won’t have to worry about crowds when/if I go, though I do wonder about camping. Apparently, there is only a partially paved road in the monument, and that doesn’t go anywhere near the campgrounds. Ten miles or more on dirt roads in my ancient vehicle? Eek. Although much of the working parts of the car are still sort of new, such as the new engine and rebuilt transmission, the weldings are forty-six years old. Remember those early comic books where an old car drove down a horrid road and suddenly, the entire thing fell apart? Not something I would like to test.

Also, during the time I would be there, the self-guided Painted Rocks tour would not be available because of nesting birds, (a reason I can accept) so I’d have to take the three-hour guided tour. I suppose it could be fun, but I’d have to drive to where the tour started, and there are those roads again. (Some of the roads are clay, so if it threatens to rain, you are urged to leave immediately or be stranded since the roads become dangerous when wet. More eek.)

I considered dispersed camping, but there again, I’d have a long drive on iffy roads.

Still, a straight-through trip to Seattle is not an option — I have things to see and people to visit along the way — but I am making a note to myself:  make sure you have a back-up plan, such knowing where to find a motel for the night.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.