This is a seedy time of year
EAGLE COUNTY – It’s that time of year again. – the shift is underway. Mid-summer has given way to late summer, and it is now time for flowers and shrubs to sow their seeds. Seeds are small but powerful genetic packages that come in different forms each utilizing a unique means for dispersal.Take berries for instance. Yum, yum, berry season is officially underway with thimbleberries and raspberries ripened to perfection, tasty, and sweet. High-country serviceberry and chokecherry limbs droop under the weight of abundant fruit.
Colorful currants and gooseberries attract your eye as you pass by. And if you look carefully, sometimes using your sense of smell to pick up on a sweet scent, you’ll find tiny but potent blueberries hidden under the leaves of the forest’s ground cover, especially near treeline.Berries, and fruit in general, contain seeds. The fruit is meant to be eaten by birds and beasts, and the seeds pass through the digestive system and are deposited neatly within its own compost pile to start life anew.Other types of seeds rely on the wind. Seeds from plants such as salsify, arnica, cottonwood and dandelion form lightweight parachutes that catch the wind much like a snowflake, and are blown to a new home.Sunflower seed heads are now drying to perfection. You can open up these old flower heads and find delicious wild sunflower seeds. It is not uncommon to see where deer and elk have nipped off the seed heads. Birds, of course, also love sunflower seeds.
Seeds often contain an outer sheath that must be chewed through in order to be fully digested by an animal. For instance, if corn is not fully chewed to break the sheath, it magically appears again. Burrs are perhaps the most interesting of seeds, designed to attach to an unsuspecting passerby, and be taken to a new frontier before being brushed or picked off. An up-close look at the mechanism which makes burrs stick and release led to the modern invention of Velcro. As we walk through the meadows, forests and tundra this time of year, we can examine seeds, and be reminded that we too plant seeds – in the form of creative ideas. We start with a seed of creativity, nurture it, and then someday later it comes to fruition. It is then that we enjoy the harvest.
Tom and Tanya Wiesen are owners and lead guides for Trailwise Guides; a year-round backcountry guide service specializing in private outings for hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and wildlife watching. Contact Trailwise Guides at 827-5363.Vail, Colorado
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