Rock Hunting Above Enoch, UT

rock huntingWe took the road to the left on this adventure to the BLM lands east of Enoch, Utah. Up about a quarter mile all you can hear is the freeway noise. Junipers blanket the hillside and provide what shade there’s going to be from the 100 degree+ heat.

Tracy is hunting for high contrast agate for cabs. I’m looking for small flats/chips to tumble for my baskets. There’s so much to choose from, it would be easy to fill a gallon bag in a short time. I’m looking for more subtle pieces that will blend and accent the basket, not be the focal point for it.

When we were rock hunting in the private land sections of Death Valley, CA it came home to me that it was possible many of those wind-polished rocks had not been moved in 100’s of years. And that they should be moved gently – you never knew what creature could be raising their own family underneath.

Most of what we chose today have been washed down from above, what the BLM calls “float”, and is legal to acquire without permit or fee. Another treasure trove considered float (because we aren’t going to mine for it) are the rocks road graders have “popped” up during road repair. This can be a little more difficult if it hasn’t rained since they graded.

Grandmother’s relatives left tobacco as a thank you for sharing when rock, weaving materials and food were taken from the land. As I chose to be a non-smoker 27 years ago, I don’t have tobacco around. I decided to purchase corn seeds from the local farm store in the spring. A good 1 lb of seed usually lasts me a full year of hunting. It’s my thank you and the squirrels, birds, and others benefit from them and sometimes I’ll spot a plant from the previous year’s offering.

The hillsides and meadows are still green. The Junipers show off their blue berries and many of the cactus have gone from flower to fruit. The Juniper/Cedar berries are used by many of the local tribal women for beads. Some of the tribes call them “ghost beads”. I use them on my baskets, but I don’t harvest and string them, I buy them from the ladies of the other tribes. They are not too expensive and about 6 ft’ of beads lasts a long time.

The morning air has a little bite and it feels like fall. Too early on a calendar, but Mother Earth will do what she wants. I’m ready for winter any time she is.

Until next time – – – – –

Escalante, Utah – The Donut Hole

For the first time in many, many, many weeks, Father Sky has rewarded Mother Earth with moisture in the Escalante valley.  Other places have received more than their share as floods reduce neighborhoods to rubble.  But today is our turn.

The plants are singing Father Sky’s praise as all our landscaping is native plants and I don’t water at all.  So this drink is a gift to very thirsty vegetation.  Purple Sage, Mormon Tea, Rabbit Brush, Russian Sage, Oregon Grape, and Siberian Pea Shrubs provide some shade to join the rocks and provide habitat for the many lizards that have taken up residence.  I was gifted a Native Bear Grass plant –in the Spring – and that’s not the ideal time to plant natives.  They do better when planted in the fall.  So the Bear Grass got a drink off and on all summer and looks like it’s going to make it.

Like many in Escalante, there’s an overabundance of Chipmunks this year.  One friend has captured over 80 and at least 3 squirrels.  We’re at one squirrel and 6 Chipmunks.  Trap and relocate to the great wilds of the Grand Staircase and Dixie National Forest are one solution.  The other is trap and recycle.  I overheard someone in the Grocery Store this past week talking about the Chipmunks eating up their entire garden (and gardens in Escalante are meant to provide for the winter).

Since the Hen and Chicks is neighbor to the Bear Grass they reaped the rewards of getting some extra moisture and is in the process of blooming.  Fun!  The Hollyhocks were doing poorly until there was a small squall about 8 weeks ago.  That provided enough moisture to bloom and go to seed, but the seed pods are small and scattered along the stems.  I’ll share what bounty I have with Friend and “Seed Lady” Harriet Priska. I’ll happily share because her seeds benefit the Native Plant Society Chapter here and they helped me decide what plants to acquire and when to plant.

It’s supposed to rain hard today – we’ll see.  Most times our little basin gets blue skies in the center of the storm.  We call it the donut hole – where the waters from the surroundings hills nourish our little basin and direct rainfall equals 7” a year.  We’ll see.