Stay a Little Longer

June 09, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

spring at Grand Teton National ParkSpotlight on SpringAfternoon storms forming over the Teton Range create quickly changeable - and dramatic - skies. A few rays of light break through, highlighting the lush springtime foliage. (Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming) Green season is a magical time of year. It's even more special in the semi-arid wild, wild intermountain west due to its brevity. 

When the deciduous leaves first appear on the scene, they're lush and bright. They pop against the darker greens of their conifer cousins. Aspens and cottonwoods awaken from their winter sleep looking uniformly, spectacularly, luxuriantly lime. By mid-summer, the aspens will take on a deeper hue. Teton Valley IdahoThunderheadsThe Teton River cuts a path through the Teton Valley - which is never more lovely than in the spring and early summer, awash in green. Here, thunderheads climbing high into the sky dominate the scene. (Tetonia, Idaho) The cottonwoods will shift a little toward yellow. Some of trees will become stressed; those leaves might brown prematurely. For now though, they drink it all in. Literally.

Likewise, the fields and hillsides of spring are full of viridescent vegetation. The combination of runoff and precipitation paint the landscape with broad brushstrokes.

Add to that the vast expanse of agricultural land in Eastern Idaho, which - having recently been planted - is generally green right now regardless of the crop.

In a way it's a bit of bait and switch. Surprise! Don't get accustomed to the water. There isn't more where that came from...

Reality will set in when the rain stops falling and the snow has melted from the mountains; the plants will have to learn to make do.

As the trees shift into their mid-summer form, likewise the grasses and rabbitbrush will transform. Fields will become golden and brown. 

For now, though, we celebrate in the moment. Springtime green.

Sometimes the season lingers. Last year was one such glorious example. Well into July the greens hung around, thanks to significant snowpack and chilly temperatures. 

2021 is shaping up quite differently. Though it stormed often throughout the month of February, January and March didn't contribute much to the snowpack. When spring arrived apparently the rain didn't feel like coming along for the party. Precipitation has been spotty and light. Add to that unusually warm temperatures over the past 10 days; the mercury topped out at nearly 20 degrees above normal last weekend. It is most definitely dry.

I expect this year's green season will be achingly brief. 

If only we could will it to stay just a little longer.

I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration
Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth...
D.H. Lawrence

About the photos

Top: Afternoon thunderstorms rolling through Jackson Hole often create quickly changeable skies. If you're patient, you may see something special. The best of the show on this day was in the northern section of Grand Teton National Park, pictured here.

Middle: Idaho's Teton Valley bills itself as "The Best of Both States." It's undeniably beautiful - and much less crowded than the park. You're looking here toward the town of Tetonia with Mount Owen, Grand Teton, Middle Teton, and South Teton forming a spectacular backdrop. The Teton River originates in Victor near the Idaho/Wyoming state line and runs through the valley. It's a tributary of Henry's Fork of the Snake River. 

Below: Green season in Grand Teton National Park. This line of cottonwoods is lime green only for a brief time in the spring. The way the baseline of the trees almost perfectly mirrors the line of the mountains always catches my eye; on this evening the aftermath of thunderstorms moving out near sunset completed the scene.

Calm after the Storm Grand Teton National ParkReturning CalmStorms slowly drift out of the area as the sun sets behind the Teton Range. The shape of the treeline at its base mirrors that of the mountains behind it. (Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming)

 


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