Last updated 4/19/2018 at 11:53am
By Ernie Cowan
If last year's wildflower season was a Super bloom, this spring is the year of the micro bloom, and for many an even better show.
Exceptional rains brought lots of water to the arid regions of San Diego last year and the result was a desert wildflower season unlike any in nearly a decade. Borrego Springs was transformed from its quiet beauty into an urban crush of visitors eager to see the flowers.
While the epic bloom brought many new faces to the desert for the first time, it also transformed a place known for solitude, quiet discovery and both inward and outward exploration into a busy metropolis of gawkers.
Things have returned to normal this spring.
This spring is more like a treasure hunt, offering visitors a wonderful adventure of discovery in the vast expanses of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. This is the perfect time to lace up those hiking boots and take off into the open spaces of California's largest state park.
I did just that last week, heading into Coyote Canyon with hopes that the there might be blooms in a place where there is water.
A few other campers were in tents, trailers and motorhomes along the, enjoying the peace, quiet, open space and fresh air of the desert.
I arrived at Lower Willows where even in this relatively dry year there is water flowing in Coyote Creek.
Water is life in nature, and especially so in the desert. Here was a micro garden featuring bright-yellow brittlebush, showy magenta beavertail cactus blooms, stalks of lupine, and spindly ocotillos tipped in waxy red flowers. A few cholla cacti were already showing their greenish-yellow blossoms, and clumps of purple sand verbena were scattered over the sand like colorful stepping stones.
Birdlife is also attracted to water, and flocks of yellow-rumped warblers were enjoying the ocotillo blossoms, while chattering black-throated sparrows foraged on the ground for insects.
Wandering at the base of a small hill there was a granite boulder dimpled with the grinding holes from an ancient time long ago when Native Americans gathered and processed food during their winter visits here.
It was a typical winter day with warm sunshine, but a slight chill in the shade. I paused in a sunny spot beside the creek to sit, watch and listen to the natural world around me.
Spring has special sounds. Lesser goldfinch were in seemingly endless conversation, Coyote Creek gurgled over ancient rocks worn round by eons of flow, and the wind had its own gentle language as it whispered through a nearby tree. There was a balance to nature, a Zen moment of reflection, a tranquility of earth and soul.
A sharper sound caught my attention. There was a clatter above me and glancing up I noticed a young bighorn sheep yew watching me. Was curious about this intruder into her neighborhood?
Perhaps not. Nature seemed to ignore my presence as a desert iguana scurried by and a moment later a Costa's hummingbird caused me to duck when it whizzed past my ear. On my quiet walk back to my truck, a roadrunner dashed between the creosote bushes, offering what seemed to be an iconic exclamation point to a perfect desert day.
Back in Borrego Springs, there was no waiting for dinner, no traffic, and this wonderful little town has returned to the pace that typically brings visitors here.
Yes, a Superbloom is something to remember, but I'm not complaining about this year's dry winter.
There is still plenty of beauty to go around. Like many of the best things in life, you just need to seek it. It's worth the effort.
Contact Ernie at Packtrain.com or follow http://erniesoutdoors.blogspot.com/