Monthly Archives: May 2014

Pasque Flowers

The Power of Observation

ob·ser·va·tion

(äb-zər-vā’-shən) n. the act, practice, or power of noticing
Webster’s New World Dictionary: Third College Edition

In April, some of my Hellgate High School colleagues and I hiked Blue Mountain in search of wildflowers. Our trek held particular significance as we looked for pasque flowers in memory of two beloved staff members who had passed away in the preceding months.

Darcy, one of our biology teachers, had scouted Missoula’s hillsides days earlier. Though rain threatened and the weather forecast called for scattered thundershowers the afternoon of our scheduled hike, we set out. The delicate purple flowers our attendance clerk extraordinaire, Candice, had loved were in bloom. And we didn’t want to miss them.

Big Sky Country
                                                                           Big Sky Country

Some of us laughed as, battling our way through a swarm of gnats en route to a patch of pasque flowers, we felt Candice’s playful presence.

Pasque Flowers
              Pasque Flowers

Other flowers peppered the mountain for our viewing pleasure, too. Armed with field guides and the experienced eyes of several in attendance, we identified more than fifteen different wildflowers.

Arrowleaf Balsamroot
                    Arrowleaf Balsamroot
Bluebells
                                 Bluebells
Missoula Valley
                                                                          Missoula Valley

Later, after toasting the memories of Candice and Lisa, I marveled again at the observational skills of my fellow hikers as we recalled the names of the various flowers we’d identified. Though several had not yet bloomed, leaves had been clue enough for some of our wildflower sleuths.

The hikes I’ve taken since that afternoon have been with my senses heightened. I’ve spent more time reflecting on the beauty of this place I’ve lived—and often taken for granted—for the past thirty-six years. Hiking in Montana is good for the soul. It’s good for the mind, too, as I discovered in a recent magazine article.

“Pattern recognition is one of my strengths as an investor,” hedge fund founder Renée Haugerud said in the Spring 2014 issue of the Montanan. “I think every lesson in trading you can learn from nature.”

So head for the hills. The flowers of Woods Gulch and elsewhere–trillium, glacier lily, clematis, lady’s slipper, Indian paintbrush, everlasting, columbine and arnica–are calling your name.

Photos courtesy of Lee Brown