In an effort to remove a few of the pounds that my Frappucino habit has put on (ack!), and just generally tone up and feel better, I've been walking at lunchtime.
Today's jaunt was along the (harharhar!) "urban" trail from near my office over to the other side of Local Community College. Lots of ups and downs. A distressing tendency to be too close to Pine Tree Drive. But, here and there, it dipped into the woods, and so I soaked in small doses of springtime.
One dose: mountain bluebirds. Ahhh. You have no idea how blue a bird can be until you've seen one of these little fellas--think of your most vivid deep royal blue Polartec fuzzy--that blue. With a lovely rosy breast beneath to provide a bit of contrast. Folks hereabouts know springtime is coming when these birds show up (you also know summer is well along when the bronze hummingbirds arrive, and you know it's autumn when the orioles peer in your birdfeeders).
Whilst walking, I kept seeing little bits and fluffs of white. Being cynical and snarky, my first thought was that a UPS box filled with snerds had exploded on the road and scattered plastic popcorn hither and yon. But, upon closer examination, it was yet another harbinger of spring: small white wildflowers.
Yeah, yeah, yeah--I know I know the names of these things. They look kinda like alyssum, see? In fact, my second thought, after damning the manufacturers of plastic snerds, was that someone had wandered along the "urban" trail with a seed packet of allysum. But then, I realized, no, not allysum, but...that other white springtime flower.
What's its name? Yeah, whatsisname. That's it.
I wandered up and down hill for a while, admiring the oh-so-cleverly-placed penstemon tufts near Local Community College, which almost look natural, reached the entrance to Extremely Expensive Golfing Community With Humongous Houses, turned around, and it hit me:
Ah hah, I say to myself, I will have to google it when I get back, to be sure.
Huffing and puffing as I sat at my desk, I reached for the encyclopedia...
Okay, I placed fingers on keyboard. These days, the internet acts, for me, like encyclopedias used to. I can wander from topic to topic quite easily, browsing like a butterfly on information, and the internet is the most glorious flower for browsing.
The pics were close. Very close. But they all looked very...garden-y and not wildflower-y.
And there, in the midst of all the flower pics, was a pic that led me to Chalet Iberis.
So I stayed a while and drooled, then sighed, and returned to the image search to search on candytuft. I found: wedding dresses. Fairies galore--pictures, pillows, stained glass, music boxes, jewelry, statues, pewter figurines, candy... (Apparently, there is a particular taxon of fairy, the "candytuft fairy", that crouches on flowers with its knees up and arms around its knees. You've seen it. I've seen it. It's a cliché. It has a name. Good golly.) Tarot cards. Cats. Yarn. A horse named "Candytuft" (of course). A whole slew of pictures of other flowers, linked, by some odd chance, to the word "candytuft": echinacea? Bleeding heart? Lilies? California poppies? Hmmm.
Then, in amongst all the images, I found some mention of "wild candytuft", and images or names linked to the Southwest mountains. And then I found the motherlode (which I'm sure my mom has passed on to me previously): NAZ Flora's entry on thlaspi montanum, known as Fender's Pennycress or Wild Candytuft, with lots of pictures looking almost exactly like the pretty little white wildflowers I had seen during my walk.
There you have it: a walk through the odd connections the internet can provide you, and an entry to a very handy resource (NAZ Flora) for anyone who lives in the Southwestern mountains of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado.
(For those who are giving me the hairy eyeball about doing this while working, I plead queries that take a long time to process, so while they were processing, I was flitting from flower to flower. My query window would flash when it was done, so I'd bop over there, frown, open up the design window, fiddle with the parameters, set the query running again, and bop back to my flower search.)