Life On Mars?
You belong among the widlflower superbloom.
After months of pleasantly cooler-than-normal temperatures and enough rain to finally end a terrible drought in much of the state (compare now to one year ago and rejoice), it feels like summertime here in Southern California. Which can mean only one thing: road trip! (OK it could mean about a million things, that’s why we all live here, but on this occasion we chose a road trip.)
And so we ventured down to the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to behold the most exuberant explosion of wildflowers in perhaps 20 years, right at the moment of peak superbloomage.
You may have heard about it in the news (thank you LAist) or seen it on social media. It’s the Superbloom. It’s Flowergeddon. It truly is awesome, and it’s another great excuse to go out hiking in the middle of nowhere.
As Los Angeles–based geologist Janet Gordon told NPR recently, “It just looks like a sea of flowers.” Purples, whites, reds, oranges, and lots of yellows and golds, as far as the eye can see. The normally barren desert is bursting with life — and not just foliage. Take a closer look and you’ll see tons of big fat bright-green caterpillars, a major reason there is little time left to see the Superbloom in its full splendorous glory.
Sprinkled around the desert you’ll also find dozens of large free-standing metal sculptures created by artist Ricardo Brecada — everything from a Tyrannosaurus to a gigantic scorpion–grasshopper standoff to a group of pioneering homesteaders to bucking broncos to a gargantuan sea dragon that appears to alternately rise above and submerge below the desert sand in a series of long, wavy, slithering scaly sections, each reaching twenty to thirty feet in the air and altogether spanning two sides of a main road for about 100 yards.
All sunshine makes a desert, goes an old Arab proverb. It’s a metaphor for the impossibility of humans avoiding pain and unhappiness, and the wisdom in appreciating the essential fleetingness of satisfaction, all wrapped in a warning about the barrenness of character resulting from a shallow life without struggle. But looking out at the sea of millions of colorful petals under that blazing sun, those words’ literal meaning superseded all that. Sure, all sunshine makes a desert — but when you add some rain...
The rains did finally come. But the dry season has begun already. In many areas where the flowers are now thriving, the earth around them is already dried and cracked again.
All things must pass.
Caterpillars gotta eat.
Enjoy things while they last, and when they vanish, try to focus on the butterflies that emerge. And take a road trip.
Posted on March 20, 2017. All photography by me.