It's the middle of winter, and right on schedule, Claytonia rosea is not too far away from presenting its first blooms. Underneath a clump of naked Gambel oak along the Tower Trail, I've been watching several plants of spring beauty the last couple of weeks - I've found leaves but no buds or blossoms (I have found spring beauty blooming as early as January 18 a few years ago). This morning, I took this photo - conditions allowing, it won't be too long to this year's first blooming wildflower in the park, a sure sign that winter will not last forever. Speaking of winter, the prolific snows of the early part of winter have given way to several dry weeks. January's sparse 4" of new snow was a big shift compared to the nearly 60" we received through the end of December. But, there's still plenty of winter left.
Maya Avina and several local artists and art students from CSU-Pueblo teamed up to make a beautiful series of Nature tiles. These tiles will soon adorn the rock work at MPEC's new fire circle benches in front of Horseshoe Lodge. This past Friday, Maya delivered the tiles...here are photos of some of them. As soon as we get a stretch of milder weather and schedules allow, we will get these added to the circle benches.
Today MPEC resumed the Earth Studies program when our 2 buses with about 70 5th graders from Hellbeck and Morton Elementary Schools arrived at the park. Today's lesson included basic orienteering, where students learn about using a compass, and then navigate their way through one of several courses we have set up in the park. The photo with the card illustrates one of the activities they do as they reach a point along the course, in this case reinforcing the tree identification lesson from the fall. It feels so good to see and hear these young people happily and actively learning while spending the day out in Nature and these big beautiful ponderosa pines.