It was the 3rd week of February as we ascended the steep slopes of Swakane Canyon heading for the top of Entiat Ridge when at 4000 feet a hint of bright yellow color caught my eye in a small snow free area of South facing and sun exposed ground revealing what on closer look would be the first wildflower of the year. I think it was the earliest
I had ever seen a wildflower, a solitary Butter Cup
, it would be the only one I saw the entire day so by chance it was in the right place, at the right time, springing forth from winter’s loosening grip and though I have looked I have never seen another wildflower that early in the year even at elevations thousands of feet below.
The Butter Cup is usually the first flower I do see in early Spring adding splashes of color to the pale hills and mountains of the far East Slopes of Washington’s Cascades before they green up and since my early encounter I now look forward in quiet anticipation for the first wildflower, a marker for a new beginning for so many things, especially a new hiking season.
The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size. ~Gertrude S. Wister