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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 


For the week of April 23 - 29, 2003

Features

Ah! Spring

Hints of green, first blossoms cast their spell


By DANA DUGAN
with GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writers

Diligently poking through the dry-caked mud near Silver Creek, a hint of green demands attention. On closer inspection, it looks like a weed, but just a few feet away are more signs of spring: a clump of Blue Hills sage and, down the path, fan-like delphinium leaves.

Express photos by Dana DuGan, Willy Cook

In Idaho, spring marches slowly northward from the lowland canyons of the Snake River near Hagerman and Bliss. The gradual greening of the earth rolls like a wave across the desert toward the rugged peaks of Central Idaho. Itís a phenomenon that takes months, beginning in late March at the lowest elevations and finishing in late June or early July in the highest alpine environments.

At least in the southern reaches of the Wood River Valley spring appears to have arrived, although the daffodils on the south side of Silver Creek Outfitters in Ketchum always seem to bloom before everything else.

And, on closer inspection around Ketchum, there are signs of iris leaves poking through matted root clumps along narrow strips next to cottages. Packed alongside the iris are artemsia (silver mound) and small delicate cerastium (snow-in-the-summer), both soft and silver. Keeping them company are early hollyhock leaves, round and hopeful.

Further south toward Carey, nothing but sagebrush is apparent. But up against Bellevue and Hailey cottages, daffodils, red tulips and the little blue scilla bifolia are visible.

Silver Creek Preserve, which still appears rather forlorn, currently has little more than natural debris strewn along its paths until closer inspections on hands-and-knees show otherwise.

These inspections reveal goldmoss sedum spilling over rocks and the deeply cut foliage of delphinium poking through last summerís dead grasses.

A Canada goose roosts resolutely on her nest on a small island, and other birds, hidden in the reeds, chatter away.

Otherwise, among the bone-colored stalks strewn haphazardly on the once lush trails and creekbanks, carpets of pussytoes create a soft silver mat. Mertensia, commonly known as Mountain Blue Bell, offers what little color is apparent with its small blue bugle shaped buds.

Express photos by Dana DuGan, Willy Cook

Green took over from the brown shades of winter last week on the Camas Prairie, near Fairfield, and the songs of a choir of birds echoed from the vertical ramparts surrounding Camas Creek.

The willows were red and ripe with the hope of warm months ahead.

Pairs of Canada geese, ducks and great blue herons hunkered on nests full of eggs, while crows and watchful red tailed hawks waited for the new parents to leave their young for a few of Mother Natureís cruel but necessary moments.

The choir was interrupted only by the intermittent percussive cracks from a .22 caliber rifle fired by a spring-starved boy.

Back in Hailey, sedum, veronica, lavender, points of hosta leaves, buds on lilac trees and the fast growing herb lovage are all working their way out of dormancy.

By Easter, daffodils were blooming; Easter colors prevailed under a blue sky. Grateful residents of all species gratefully turned their faces to the sun.

 

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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.