Chasing Light: Flower power

"Walk me out in the morning dew ..."

The last few nights (and even the days) have been chilly in the high country, where we’re half expecting to wake up to a hard frost any morning now. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, unless you haven’t had a chance to check out this summer’s spectacular crop of mountain wildflowers. That first frost signals the coming of fall and winter, but it also spells the beginning of the end for the short season of blooms, spurring plants to stop using energy for flowering to instead prepare for months of dormancy. Even before temperatures drop below freezing, the leaves on some plants are already tinging orange and red, partly due to a special natural antifreeze compound called anthocyanin (also present in red-skinned apples). Soon, all focus will be on the brilliant show of autumn aspens, but there’s still a little time left to enjoy summer!