Alpine Flora

My eye is drawn to nature. It is natural design that inspires the fire to create and guides my hands in my work. When I'm not creating, I'm going to the well if you will. I spend as much time as I can outdoors. Sometimes it's simple walks, sometimes it's more involved hiking and climbing. The past year in particular I have gathered quite an interest in the alpine flora that calls the White Mountains home, and the following article is my first at approaching this subject. I invite you to follow the journey I am on as I explore and learn from the magick of these New England woods.

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A version of the following article, "That Which Is Among", was recently published in Wild Northeast magazine and images were captured by Brett William.

Those who find work or play in the mountains are no stranger to the reward of being above. But it is not just the perspective of height to be considered, but that which you are among.

It was a docile day. We chose the Boott Spur trail and immediately upon turning away from Tuckerman Ravine Trail, the path narrowed. And true to less-trafficked form, we didn’t pass another the entire outing. Tracks in the fresh snow revealed the animals that must have just recently been bounding toward and away from one another. Bits of conversation, boughs to awe. An ancient quiet in the groves of trees as the incline steeped, and a familiar, rising, rattling of wind as we got closer to treeline. There is something forbidden with that first step out beyond and into the alpine zone. You leave the barricade of buried spruce and you enter the arena of the wind with the spirit of all its ages. You know based on story and experience, that while you can play here, this place isn’t for the faint, and there is cruelty to exposure for the ill-prepared.

On this day, the wind beat, in its playful way - rising but tolerable to stand and admire. Tuckerman Ravine was to our right, in the shoulders of Mt. Washington. The weather became moody, mostly grey, the sun trying to burn a spot through the clouds. On occasion, diaphanous mist, a thin veil discreetly revealing the ravine, was to be quickly covered by a wall of fog that you could spend the rest of your life, or stable body temperature, searching for a break in.

There was something that commanded my attention, something much more subtle than the roar of winds carried over the ravine. A blanket of color and texture sprawled over and around rock. The alpine flora. Diapensia and Cinquefoil, among the Mountain Cranberry, holding their space with quiet elegance. If it were not for the shift in the winds, my gaze may not have focused on this ground cover. Intent to breathe that summit breath little attention is spent on the rest.

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The alpine atmosphere of the White Mountains of NH crawls with character, strong and delicate. That which we go to admire is the ravine, named after botanist Edward Tuckerman, whose calling, ironically, was not these great vistas but that which covers the ground. That which is among.

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