Death Valley Superbloom
Today I want to share with you some photos I took at the Death Valley National Park Super-bloom on March, 4 2016 and alert you that it’s still going on right now! If you’re free to do what you want, when you want to do it (in other words, if you are a vandweller) then I’d strongly suggest you give some thought to getting over there to see it before it’s gone! It’s spectacular!
Every so often all the conditions line up for their to be an amazing bloom of wildflowers across the desert southwest, including Death Valley. This year the conditions (especially the amount and the timing of the rain) were perfect for there to be a once-in-a decade display of wildflowers. Every year there are some that bloom, but this year the rains came just when the wildflower seeds needed it and the right amount, not too little and not too much, so that they all bloomed in mass, creating a Suprbloom! The seeds are always there, they are just very patiently waiting for everything to be just right, even if they have to wait for decades!
The contrast between the desolate and barren landscape and the delicate beauty of the vividly colorful carpets of wildflowers that are now blooming across Death Valley has a deep impact on your soul. Not only is the desert ancient, powerful and majestic, but it’s capable of beauty, sensitivity and delicacy that puts the greatest art of humans to shame. No poem, photograph or artist rendering can ever have the same impact as actually standing in a barren desert in a field of wildflowers and looking at one flower and then up at a carpet of them. All we can hope for is to create a pale imitation of the real thing.
Seeing the two together can have a powerful impact on your heart if you will allow it. It’s nature’s gift of lessons that all of it’s creatures (and especially humans) must learn, if they are to live well on this earth.
In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia. ~Charles Lindbergh
Normally your first gut reaction to the desert is how very stark, lifeless and empty it is, but as you get to know it by spending time in it you soon realize that there is much more to it than first meets the eye in a casual glance. After I’d spent some time in it my reactions have transformed into a profound respect for the immensity, majesty and timelessness of the desert. The desert, and in fact all of nature, has one huge benefit for humans, it teaches us humility. And if there is one thing that is missing in our modern lives it’s humility!
We are so impressed with our scientific achievements and industrial accomplishments that we’ve really come to see ourselves as having a much greater place in the world than we actually deserve. We aren’t really the masters and rulers of all we see, in fact we are just a part of a large whole that should contribute it’s share for what we take out. Instead our hubris makes us believe that the planet and everything in it is here to do with as we please. Everything is our possession to use, consume and destroy as we see fit. The more time you spend in nature, the more you intuitively can see the fallacy of that thinking. Aldo Leopold said it best in his Land Ethic:
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
“The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land… A land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.” ~Aldo Leopold
Once you’ve spent some time in the desert and opened your soul to hear it’s unspoken message, you quickly come to see how very tiny and puny we are in the grand scheme of things. The desert has stood in one place with very little change not just for tens of thousands of years, but for thousands of millenniums. It’s ancient wisdom laughs at our insignificant discoveries. In a moments time it could snuff us out like the locusts we are.
When I step out of my van in the morning and look around in a 360 degree circle, the sheer immensity of it’s size humbles me. It would take me days of walking to reach the distant mountains and many more days of walking to reach the next distant mountains. To reach them all would take me many months of walking and I would be dead before I reached them unless I give the desert the respect it demands and learned and followed it’s ways.
When Humans are separated from nature, our hearts become hard and minds are puffed up–but fortunately there is a simple cure; spending time alone in it with an open heart and mind. At first it will reveal and exacerbate our time-clock mind, the desperate and sick need to fill every moment with productive activity, but after the initial madness starts to diminish sanity will slowly return to us. Then, for the first time we’ll know peace and contentment.
Consider the wildflowers that are in bloom right now in Death Valley. Their seeds will lie in the ground for years, or even for decades waiting for just the perfect conditions of rainfall, warmth, sunlight and length of day to suddenly burst forth in unison like the worlds grandest symphony–all with one great cry of joy and supreme beauty. At last, they will have finally fulfilled their purpose and plan in life! Don’t they know that their song will be brief and then they will be gone, returning to the earth to wait another long period of time for everything to be just right again? Isn’t that terribly sad?
No, it is not! Of course they know, but they do NOT care! Every fiber and atom of their being is finally doing what they were created to do in one giant cry of pure, incomprehensible JOY! They’ve learned the lesson that so few humans ever do, that time means nothing but fulfilling your purpose on this earth means everything. One supreme moment of beauty and joy is as much as most of us are given, so wait patiently for yours and do it with your whole heart!
You are part of the grand symphony of life, a small but vital part of a staggering whole that comes together to become unimaginable beauty. It will go on without you, but it will be diminished. Sadly, the beauty of our whole world has been so tremendously diminished until much of it is actually pure ugliness–but it doesn’t have to be so.
If each of us will finally stop listening to a man-made conductor and trying to sing a man-made song, the symphony we were born to sing will burst forth out of our heart and soul. Then, and only then, will the world know beauty again.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin
Search the silent depths of your heart; ignore all the man-made songs; find your song! Do it, BE it!
“It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us. Rather, our concern must be to live while we’re alive – to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are.” ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
I’m making Videos on my good friends James and Kyndal’s YouTube Channel. See them here:
While I was in Death Valley I shot a video of the Superbloom, you can see it here:
If you don’t see it above, click or cut and paste this link into your browser:
“When I step out of my van in the morning and look around in a 360 degree circle, the sheer immensity of it’s size humbles me. It would take me days of walking to reach the distant mountains and many more days of walking to reach the next distant mountains. To reach them all would take me many months of walking and I would be dead before I reached them unless I give the desert the respect it demands and learned and followed it’s ways.”
I intended to shut up for a while, but, man, just reading the first lines, you speak right out of my hearth!
OK, last one of the trilogy, but, you know, Bob struck a cord with me again (I don’t care if it’s correct English or not). What is written here may sound like a bunch of b……..t to some, but I guarantee that those, wo really experience that (me included…) will confirm that there are completely new and greater dimensions to your life than you imagine..
(I’m NOT crazy, my surroundings can confirm it any time… 😉 )
Absolutely love your pics and the quotes that accompany them. I completely agree with everything you said about the desert. Strikes a deep cord with me, and every time I open my soul to it I feel free.
Thanks Nina, from your writing I could tell you are a lover of the desert–after all you have the soul of a poet.
I’m tremendously impressed with your new solar! And very jealous!
Bob, your blog just gets better and better. I check in every day to see what new and interesting things you have to say. Your photos are beautiful and the addition of videos allows me to hear the passion you feel for life. Keep up the great work.
Bob, thank you very much. Just a tip, I almost always post on Wednesday and Sunday. Every so often it will vary, but not often.
Thanks for the tip Bob, you have a lot of wonderful people in your trib and I enjoy reading there comments also. Wish the best for all of you ou there!
Thanks Bob, and for you too!
Your photos are simply breath-taking. Your words…my god your words are so passionate, so powerful- that my heart hurts reading them. Thank you for taking me to Death Valley this morning!
gig, that is so very kind of you to write, I really appreciate it!
wow, that looks great, I wish I was there taking photos too! It’s quite a happening this year, Nat Geo did a post on it too.
I should find out when the deserts of BC bloom and plan a trip for that time. Last year, I missed the peak bloom in the Cascades of BC by 2 weeks, everything was early. I still got gorgeous photos of fields of Anemone seed heads with mountain backdrops though. Nature is beautiful! Thanks Bob!
Ming, one thing I’ve been wanting to do is a Wildflower Trip, where I start in the desert and follow the wildflower bloom north through the Rockies. Maybe this is the year!!
what a great trip idea!
Ming, yeah, that’s one I’ve been meaning to do.
I experienced the super bloom in DV in 1975 or 76, can remember, but was it wonderful. I remember there was lot more red then, must be a wierd year, or maybe the others already bloomed, or maybe my brain is going to seed…ha… great pics Bob, your getting to be a real pro with your camera. I think nature taps us on the shoulder, …if we re paying attention,… and says….hey, look around, take a picture of me,… right now. Nature is the boss, when it speaks, those of us with sensitivity to it PAY ATTENTION. Thank you, Mike.
Thank you Mike, you’re right, if you yield to nature, it will always steer you right.
Good column and really good video. You’re like the antithesis to politics these days. As you know, people were talking about this event for a week or two before it started. Pretty cool.
Thanks John, I think??!!
My point was that even if it occurs every decade or so, someone somewhere watches and was able to predict that this was going to happen just before it did. Maybe some early blooms or something. but it is really cool! And you expressed attitude and philosophy is better than any news of the day.
So yes, a complement.
Thanks so much John, I appreciate it!!
The next total solar eclipse that will take place on August 21st, 2017. It will go from Oregon to North Carolina in about 4 hours during mid morning to early afternoon hours, for example 10:15 in Wyoming. Thought I’d toss that out there, FYI.
John, that’s good to know, thanks.
Dang it! I was there a couple weeks ago. Would have loved to buy you a cup of coffee. This site, more than any other single resource, got me on the road.
Alan, I’m very sorry to have missed you! Thanks for you kind words.
We lived near Tucson for 6 years out in the county and it was amazing to see the desert bloom. We went to the Sonoran Desert Museum all the time and even on our own acre, it was amazing. We had one bush that bloomed the last year we were there. I always thought it was dead before that. It had large white flowers and I have never seen it anywhere else before. Soon it looks like I will be “free”, just a couple of details left and it must happen this time. The world awaits!
Cathy, one thing I’ve always wanted to do is follow the wildflower bloom up the Rockies, this might be my year! Hopefully you’ll soon find what makes your heart sing! Insist on being happy!
The Sonoran Desert Museum is great….Been there twice…Also, Old Tucson…..