Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Equinox

The Spring (Vernal) Equinox arrived this morning at 5:02 Mountain time. I actually slept through it but an hour and a half later I was ready to celebrate the change of seasons, the point at which the earth is in balance. 

Rather than signaling the start of spring, in the Rockies the vernal equinox starts the battle between the seasons where we have a short hint of warmth and green only to be tugged back to cold and snow. True to form the weather forecast for the coming days includes snow and highs in the low 30s. We are hoping for snow, lots of snow.

After the terrible wind storm of November 2011, we built a simple altar to honor those bits of nature who were lost and those who survived. We placed the altar on the remains of a grandmother cottonwood tree who was so badly damaged in the wind storm that she had to be removed. At her widest point she was 40" across. 

I add to the altar when I find something unique or special like a pine cone from a Ponderosa pine who makes the largest cones I have ever seen or a rock from the base of a tree that was hit by lightning. The native peoples believe those rocks have powerful energies. 

Today I meditated for a while then visited the altar to give thanks. Thanks for another long, dark season behind us; thanks for another season of life ahead of us. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Elk Wallow

The warm weather of the past days has melted much of the snow in the meadow revealing an elk wallow. During the fall rut (breeding season), the bull elk create a mud hole where they urinate then thrash around in the pungent, wet earth. Trees and shrubs are often torn from the ground by their massive antlers. 

 The bull elk use this process in an attempt to increase their presence and dominance for it is the most dominate male who will have the greatest success during the breeding season. 

Even now, nearly five months later, the earthy, musty smell still lingers. In a matter of months when the meadows green up and the aspen trees breakout in leaf, the elk calves will begin arriving fulfilling the cycle. 


Friday, March 8, 2013

What's in a name?

Folks have asked us how we came up with the name of our place – Fleur Creek Farm.  Try as you might, you won’t find Fleur Creek on any map of the area, no matter how detailed.  For those of you who took French in high school and still remember any of it, “fleur” is the French word for flower.  That’s your first clue.

It didn’t take long after seeing this place for the first time to discover some of the wonderful native plants that exist here. Armed with field guides each investigation would turn up another special discovery, some we had seen elsewhere and some we had never seen before. Our first surprise was the identification of the wood lily – a blazing red flower standing nearly a foot above all the surrounding green. The following year we found the beautiful yellow lady slipper, a delicate orchid. Both the “lilies” and the “ladies” along with numerous other rare or endangered plants are located in the spruce bog areas of the wetlands.

The “lilies” and the “ladies” bog found on the eastern edge of the wetlands is fed by numerous springs and seeps that flow into a main spring fed creek we’ve named Fleur Creek. The headwaters of Fleur Creek were nothing more than a bog itself before a previous owner tried to turn it into a pond. Long story shortened – surface water rights in Colorado are strictly regulated and the pond had to be breached. While there is only a small pool left there, the pond construction served a new purpose – to concentrate all the waters that originally created the headwaters bog and channel them into a small creek. And so was born Fleur Creek which continues through the lower bog area of the “lilies and the ladies”, gathering up other spring and seep fed creeks finally leaving the place at the north end as a pretty nice little creek.  

It seemed only natural to name this special little creek which winds its way through an amazing collection of native flowers as Fleur Creek and the place where it is found as Fleur Creek Farm.

And now you know the rest of the story. Future blog postings will feature the incredible diversity of this special place including photos of the "lilies and the ladies".

From Fleur Creek Farm