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22 Jun 2021
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Summer in Tahoe
Paige Meadows in Tahoe City

A few weeks ago I rode through Page Meadows and marveled at the waves of camas lilies looking like miniature purple lakes. The aspens were just finishing leafing out to bright green and while the trail was perfectly dry (a surprise for June that shouldn’t be a surprise given our less than stellar winter) the grasses were green and lush. Then yesterday, I headed out again thinking that perhaps the flower show would be gone, but was pleasantly surprised by more waves of purple, but they were not caused by camas lilies.

The deeply purple camas lilies are a sight to behold, but a short one. On my second trip, the lilies were already well on their way to going to seed, but in the dryer parts of the meadow waves of purple penstemon now formed purple lakes of petals.

Meadows are enchanting places with the mix of moisture and bright colors, but equally fascinating is the transitions they experience. The lilies were quickly followed by the penstemon, as well as paint brush and lupine in the areas between the meadows. In a few more weeks as the grasses and flowers begin to dry, a wave of grasshoppers will arrive.

Take a ride or walk through the browning grasses of Page in late summer and early fall and you will be accompanied by a steady supply of hoppers shooting up into the air as you pass, before settling back down after you depart. Hungry? Native American’s used to gather large numbers of grasshoppers and roast them or grind them into a flour.

Later, as the temperatures drop (a prospect that sounds pretty enticing as I write this and it’s 80 degrees) the leaves begin to change, but fortunately for procrastinating hikers, not all at once. The different meadows and sun exposure lead to a solid month of fall colors. One side of a meadow will go fast and furious to orange or red, while the other side with a different sun exposure remains totally green. By the time the last meadow begins to color, the first, has already lost almost all its leaves.

Eventually, both the leaves and the snow begin to fall, covering the meadows with a soft blanket of white. All is now quiet and still, except for the occasional murmur of humans who take brief forays skiing across the meadows, especially on full moon evenings. By spring, all that snow melts filling the meadows with life sustaining water for the cycle to begin again.