Winter lingers into May.
But the golf course at Yosemite
glows green and wet in sunlight.
My husband chooses a hike
that promises abundant wild flowers.
(Like Bambi, he calls every plant
that blooms, “Flower.”)
South of the course, we walk
an unused dirt road. Slipping
on cones and needles fallen
in the shade of Incense Cedars
and Ponderosa Pines,
we sight our first wildlife–
a mule deer certain we are harmless.
A coyote appears twice,
moves too fast for our cameras.
The second time he bears
a bloodied rabbit in his jaws
and races across the road.
We hold our breath until
he safely arrives on the other side.
But we spy no lady’s slippers.
Halfway along the trail, we reach
the first of two rivulets
(which guide books described
as running under the road
through culverts) freed
from its banks, too wide to jump.
Our attempt to leap over it
results in icy, wet feet.
I tell him its okay that its too early
for white star tulips or corn lilies.
(I’d prefer a second pair of socks.)
We discuss turning back.
But decide to see the adventure through.
Maybe up ahead some azaleas
brave the cold, the way the dogwoods
in the valley have – recklessly
flinging their petals open.
So we reach the second rivulet,
made a creek by snow melt.
We roll up our pants legs, tread carefully.
There, as the path becomes eroded asphalt,
grows scarlet snow plants,
obscene as splashes of fresh blood,
saprophytes– without leaves,
relying on the decay around them.
We do not know that these four stems
are so rare that their presence is a blessing.