Text and photos by Nancy Partlow ©
Every year, I keep trying to see the prairies at the peak of bloom, but never manage to time it just right. This year, serendipitously, I finally did. A few days ago I was driving along Delphi Road when I noticed that the grounds of the Old Delphi Schoolhouse were a gorgeous carpet of blue camas lilies.
Wow! What a knockout sight.
So yesterday I drove to the Mima Preserve trail to check out the show. But when I got there, I was kind of disappointed. The bloom was nice, but not what I was hoping for.
Knowing that farther south on Mima Road near Bordeaux the camas fields are more robust, I headed there instead. Upon arrival, I was not disappointed. The roadsides were thick with blue stars and the prairie itself an undulating patchwork of azure lilies and yellow lomatiam.
As I soaked in the beauty of the scene, the naturalist in me wondered if the unseasonably hot weather earlier in the week had brought on a sudden and intense flowering that usually takes place over a longer period of time. I also pondered whether climate change will eventually cause spring-emerging insects that rely on native flowers for food to miss an ever-earlier bloom period.
|Queen Bombus vosnesenskii bumble bee gathering nectar|
and pollen from a camas lily
Such gloomy thoughts aside, I also remembered my great-grandmother Cynthia, who lived with us while I was growing up. Cynthia was born and raised on the Camas Prairie in Idaho in the late 1800's. Sights such as this must have been very familiar to her.
In researching this story, I learned that the camas prairie she knew is now gone. This makes me grateful that at least some of ours have been preserved. Long may they flower.