Wheeler Crest during a recent snowstorm.

I mentioned that we rarely have a blanket of clouds, but we did get a snowstorm recently where the cloud cover came and stayed for a couple of days. We got some lovely snow, but there’s no light peeking in for dramatic photos. What’s left in this case is a reduction of elements, featureless clouds, snowy mountains, and the desert chaparral.

I decided to look up “chaparral”, since the word keeps occurring to me, but nobody here uses it. The definition seems flexible, covering desert scrubland in several different locations, from Oregon to Mexico. The Wikipedia article says the vegetation here is California transmontane (desert) chaparral. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s why nobody uses the term here. They talk instead about the Great Basin Sage and Antelope Bitterbrush, two of the plants that dominate in this harsh envionment.

In the absence of light, my eye turns to geometry. Somehow, these wedges of the world capture this snow shadow realm very nicely: so much snow, but none makes it down to the chaparral.