The Shortest Season


5 X 7 card with envelope. Blank inside.

Item No. SHR925

Story on the back of the card:

Wind, frost, snow, thin soils—these conditions seem impossible for plants to tolerate, let alone survive in them. Yet the subalpine meadow plants we love—lupine, huckleberry, paintbrush, to name a few—have developed strategies to live here. All the work of growing must be completed in a matter of weeks before snows return. And some plants can only grow during the cooler hours of day when the summer sun doesn’t scorch. Although able to survive natural challenges, meadow plants cannot survive under your feet. A single step kills eighteen short-season specialists. The resulting bare Earth, prone to erosion, can last for decades.  

Leaves on the Cascades blueberry (Vaccinium deliciosum—yes indeed!) turn red in the fall, which arrives in early September, near Pelton Basin, high in the North Cascades. I photographed them on a solitary hike—my penultimate one as a seasonal ranger-natural history interpreter at North Cascades National Park.