Fringed Gentian: Friday Flowers

Gentian 30May2018

The fringed gentian, Gentianopsis thermalis, grows in meadows, bogs, and on moist ground. This species prefers growing in warm places and it’s common near geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. It is the official flower of the park.

This plant grows to a height of 4-16 inches and blooms in May through August. This annual has purple flowers 1.5-3 inches in length. The showy flowers are fringed along the edges.

Fringed gentians can be found across northern Canada and south through the Rocky Mountains and into parts of New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada.

Native Americans used gentians to treat headaches and as an antidote to witchcraft.

Fun fact: The flowers curl up and close on cloudy days leaving just the tops visible. The closed flowers resemble a small windmill.

Finding a new world in close-ups: LAPC

When I last visited Yellowstone, I was searching for a new world to inspire me in my fiction writing. Here are some that I found…

New world Artists' Paintpots 2June2018

A new world of waves and wonder

New world at Black Pool 2June2018

A world of contrasting colors

Artists' Paintpots 2 2June2018

A world of muted rainbows

Three Sisters Spring 2June2018

A warm and fuzzy new world

Mud Volcano 30May2018

A cold, colorless, and cracked new world

Grand Prismatic 3June2018

A world where meandering water turns to gold

new world at Anemone Geyser 30May2018

A new world where everyone lives in spherical houses along the shore

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Close-up

Elk of the Shadows: LAPC

Elk in shadow, Wyoming 2June2018

Solitary grazer

Hiding in filtered light

Antlers flocked in

Downy velvet

Oblivious to his

Wonder

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Shadows

Landscape of Grand Prismatic: LAPC

The water in some of the springs presents to the eye the colors of all the precious gems known to commerce. In one spring the hue is like that of an emerald, in another like that of the turquoise, another has the ultra-marine hue of the sapphire, another has the color of topaz; and the suggestions has been made that the names of these jewels may very properly be given to many of these springs.

Nathaniel Pitt Langford in Diary of the Washburn Expedition to the Yellowstone and Firehole Rivers in the Year 1870.

Grand Prismatic Spring is the crown jewel of hot springs at Yellowstone National Park. The landscape of Grand Prismatic has all the colors of the rainbow. The cracks and tracks add some interesting texture as well. This 370-foot wide spring is the largest in the United States and third largest in the world.

Landscape Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018
Close-up Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018
Landscape Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018
Tracks at Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018
Landscape Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 5June2015
Close-up Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Landscape

Prairie Smoke: Friday Flowers

A Rose by Another Name

Prairie Smoke Wyoming 1June2018

Prairie smoke, Geum triflorum, is a native plant of the prairies and it’s a less showy member of the rose family. The sepals on their droopy flowers are fused shut so they can’t open fully. I was drawn to this plant with its plain flowers and deeply serrated leaves.

The plants grow 6-10″ tall and bloom in late spring through early summer. Once the flowers are fertilized, they are followed by feathery wispy “fruits” (achenes) that somewhat resemble smoke. Another common name for this plant is Old Man’s Whiskers. The semi-evergreen leaves turn varying shades of red, purple, and orange in the fall.

Native Americans used prairie smoke roots and crushed seeds in eye washes, sore throat remedies, yeast infection treatments, and to help with stomach and menstrual cramps. The Nlaka’pmx used its roots in a drink and in a body wash in sweathouses. The Okanagan also used it in a love potion for women.

This plant can be found in southern Canada and in the central and northern United States (Zones 3-7). It grows in gravelly soils, but also in silty and loamy soils.

It can be grown in rock gardens and prefers sites with moist springs and drier winters. Prairie smoke tolerates summer sun and has low water needs.

Fun fact: Prairie smoke flowers are pollinated mainly by bumblebees. They have to force their way into the closed flowers to reach the nectar.

Red fox in action: Lens-artists challenge

A lucky sighting of a red fox

Red fox, Yellowstone National Park 1June2018

We saw this red fox in Yellowstone National Park in June of this year. This is the Rocky Mountain subspecies, Vulpes vulpes macroura.

The red fox is not seen often in the park because they are nocturnal and they blend into their preferred habitats along the edges of meadows and forests. The females nurse their kits during late spring and this may have been a female out looking for food. Foxes usually use dens created by other animals.

Fox kit, Yellowstone National Park

We were fortunate to see a female with kits on another spring visit to Yellowstone. Litter size averages four to eight kits. Vixens gives birth in late March to April.  Both parents care for the young through their first few months of their life.

When wolves were introduced into the park, many coyotes were eliminated by the wolves and this may have caused an increase in the number of foxes. Coyotes prefer sagebrush and open meadow habitat and hunt more by day so they don’t compete as much with foxes.

Red fox, Yellowstone National Park 1June2018

 

The red fox is the smallest dog-like mammal in the park. The males weigh 11-12 pounds and the females weigh 10 pounds. They average 43 inches in length. Most foxes live 3-7 years but in Yellowstone can live up to 11 years.

Red fox, Yellowstone National Park 1June2018

Foxes can have a wide variety of coat colors–from red to black. Their thick tail aids in balance and they use them to signal to other foxes. Foxes wrap their tail around themselves in cold weather to help them stay warm.

Red fox, Yellowstone National Park 4June2015

Red foxes have a varied diet. They feed on voles, mice, rabbits, birds, amphibians, eggs, carrion, and some plants.  Animals that prey on foxes include cougars, wolves, and coyotes.

Video of a flying red fox

Here’s a National Geographic video of a fox hunting in the winter. They have extremely good hearing and listen for animals beneath the snow. When they sense prey, they pounce or “fly” to catch it under the snow.  Flying Red Fox 

Lens-artists Photo Challenge – Action

 

 

Patterns in water: Lens-Artists Challenge

Hard and soft patterns in water

To me, this image of patterns in water looks like the chiseled profile of a white-frosted creature from another world. The shape is echoed in the shoreline across the stream.

Patterns in water Amber Echoes 2June2018

Amber Echoes

This image looks like an alien planet where worlds float on pale greenish-gold islands anchored by strong strands of green. Once the worlds are full, they detach from their moorings and float away.

Patterns in water Floating Green Worlds 2June2018

Floating Green Worlds

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Patterns

 

Soft sights at Sunset Lake: LAPC

A harsh landscape with soft edges

Soft sights at Sunset Lake, Yellowstone National Park, WY 2June2018

There are many soft sights to see in Yellowstone National Park’s harsh environments. Soft and steaming mist drifts over Sunset Lake. Soft puffy clouds float over rounded hills in the distance.

Soft sights at Sunset Lake, Yellowstone National Park, WY 2June2018

The colors along the shorelines blend softly into one another giving the lake its name. To me, it is a mystical sort of place that has many stories to tell.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Soft

Bison coming right at you: TWI – Action

Up close and personal with bison

Bison coming at you in Yellowstone National Park,WY 30May2018

I was glad I was inside my car when I saw these bison coming right at us. Some people think they are calm and tame like a domestic cow. They’re not! Bulls weigh up to 2,000 pounds and cows weigh up to 1,000 pounds. Since they can run up to 30 miles per hour, it’s best to keep your distance.

Here’s another post on them plus a link to more information. Bison Celebrating 4th.

Travel with Intent Photo Challenge – Action

 

 

Marmots Playing: Tuesday Photo Challenge

Pups playing

I had fun watching these yellow-bellied marmot pups playing while their mom kept a watchful eye on them. A mother’s work is never done!

Yellow-bellied marmots at play in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 1June2018

Yellow-bellied marmots at play in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 1June2018

Yellow-bellied marmots at play in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 1June2018

Dutch Goes the Photo! Tuesday Photo Challenge – Play

Green Worlds Beneath Me: Photo Challenge – Wonder

Tiny worlds beneath me

I often have to remind myself to look down and notice the worlds beneath me when I’m taking pictures. Here’s a picture of aquatic plants being combed by the waves and highlighted by the sun.

Green worlds beneath me. Aquatic plants at Yellowstone National Park, WY 2June2018

Here’s a picture of a lichen “forest”  growing on weathered wood. Worlds of wonder exist in landscapes large and small.

Worlds beneath me - a lichen forest on weathered wood 21June2018

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Wonder

Grand Prismatic Circles: Travel with Intent – Circle

Circles within circles at Grand Prismatic Spring

Circles of varying size dissected with cracks and surrounded by steaming mists arising from a rainbow of color at North America’s largest hot spring. Oh the wonder!

Grand Prismatic Spring Circles, Yellowstone National Park, WY 3June2018

“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.”     Ralph Waldo Emerson

To see a photo of this spring as a thunderstorm approaches, see An Artist’s Wish.

Travel with Intent – Circle

All-time Favorites: WPC

The theme for the very last Weekly Photo Challenge was All-time Favorites. I’m late getting these up because my computer was in the shop and I was traveling. So without further ado…

North American River Otter 24Sept2016

North American river otter

All-time Favorite Critters

I have a lot of photos of animals so it’s hard to choose favorites but here goes. Here’s a handful for you.

All-time Favorite Landscapes & plants

This was even harder to narrow down! Here’s another handful.

All-time Favorite History Photos

And here’s a dash of history for good measure. Hope you enjoy them!

Final Weekly Photo Challenge – All-Time Favorites

Lamar Valley Elk: FOWC

Elk at Yellowstone

Here’s a group of elk making their way through a small lake in the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park. A peaceful scene is mirrored in the lake. However, the elk are in an area where several wolf packs live.

Lamar Valley Elk Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 1June2018Lamar Valley Elk 2 Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 1June2018Lamar Valley Elk 3 Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 1June2018Lamar Valley Elk 4 1June2018

Did you know that the environment is changing in a positive way since reintroducing wolves? To see a fascinating video about this, click How Wolves Change Rivers.

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge – Mirror