Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sweet Birthday

After so many busy days, I was glad to spend my birthday at home. It was Dear Husband's day off, and we enjoyed a relaxed day puttering around the house and garden. Tayta, ever desiring to make the perfect desert for the occasion, took up the challenge of making her first pavlova.


She made a sort of double pavlova, filled with a yogurt custard, cream, and strawberries. We enjoyed its light deliciousness in the afternoon before dinner.


After dessert, we drove into Amman with some friends for dinner and a concert. We enjoyed our favorite Arab food at Faroujna and a favorite visiting Jordanian musician, Karim Said, on the piano.


I give thanks to God for another year of life, for family, friends, love, and grace. And so much more. All His gifts are perfect.

Wadi Dana~Spring Scrapbook

We make our reservations to camp in the Wadi Dana Nature Reserve in the fall. We invite our friends in the winter. Anticipation for our annual trip rises with the first signs of spring, and by mid-March we are excitedly planning our menu and wondering (me) what the flora will be like.

Jordan had a very dry rainy season this year, with hardly any precipitation from December to the beginning of March. But, the country was inundated with snow for one week in December, and the south of Jordan unusually received snow and rain during the first week of March. I hardly dared to hope we'd see many wildflowers in Dana this year, given the unusually dry winter, but the snow made all the difference.

As we rounded the bend of the road leading to the reserve, I was pleasantly surprised to see the hillside dotted with fresh mounds of spurge. Perhaps a portent of wildflowers in the valley? 


Spurge
Euphorbia

As I carried our gear from the shuttle to our campsite, I noticed that the borage was in full bloom--everywhere--like I'd never seen it before. Not only were there many more borage plants growing and blooming, but they were covered with butterflies, and the hummingbird-like Palestinian Sunbirds were flitting amongst the the bushes, enjoying the nectar of their favorite flowers.


Borage
Anchusa




After arranging our camping gear and greeting our friends, I was off on a walk to survey the flora and to take a big, thirsty drink of Wadi Dana beauty. I never, never tire of it. The flora of the reserve was in rare form, a veritable botanical garden!


Thorny Broom
Calycotome



A delicately beautiful member of the pea family



I haven't identified this one yet.


Maybe a short-toed eagle?


Mounds of glowing pink sun rose were blooming all over the reserve:


Sun Rose
Helianthemum vesicarium




Tassel Hyacinth
Leopoldia genus


Sage


Fagonia
(My first time to spot this wildflower in Dana)



The grandeur of creation!


Yellow Asphodel
Aspheodeline lutea




Stork's Bill  (Geranium)
Erodium hirtum


Sage


I love  the architecture of these sturdy umbels. 


This inflorescence (made up of many individual flowers) had a diameter of about 32 cm




Goat's Beard
Tragopogon collinus


Roth Garlic
Allim rothii

One of the Dana guides gave me a short ethnobotany lesson; below are few plants which grow around the campsite and are said to remedy various ailments. Artemesia, or Wormwood (far left),  a common shrub whose leaves are brewed in the local Dana Tea, aids in digestion, among other things.


This spring we had the pleasure of camping with friends who have young children. Watching the children play and explore brought back wonderful memories of our own family camping adventures in Dana through the years. Tatya tells me that these trips are her favorite family tradition.  I took this picture of a friend's young son as he so reminded me of my own Artist Son at this age, patiently and intently observing the smallest bits of life. Sweet memories!


Big sisters studying the nature guide while little sisters wait.



Dear Husband enjoying the cuddles of one sweet baby boy. This little one is so generous with his affection!


In years past, our friend Pat has led the children in a Resurrection Sunday play. Pat didn't camp with us this year, so Dear Husband took on his directing and producing mantel, leading the children and few fathers in a Lenten season passion play.







And then, more hiking and more beauty...


Giant Fennel
Ferula communis



Milk Vetch
Astragalus cretaceus




Jerusalem Sage

The fruits (seed pods), or "silique"  of plants in the Mustard family are beautifully varied and the unique shapes are to be admired as much as the flowers themselves:





Biscutella



Sandwort
Minuartia formosa


A profusion of dandelions



Greetings from Wadi Dana! Enjoy the beauty!