On some of the highest mountains in northern New England and in New York's Adirondacks the latitude and the altitude combine to provide an environment for alpine plants that flower in June.
Each June since moving here ten years ago, I have wanted to make my way to the Alpine Garden on the upper slopes of Mt. Washington and each June for the last ten years other things took priority.
This year, the Maine chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club offered a guided hike on the second Saturday in June for the first ten people to sign up--I signed up and on a leap of faith snagged a place for my mother on the hike, too. My mom is 75 and has had various physical ailments over the last few years but she loves flowers and when we were all younger she taught me to love the mountains--so with six weeks until the hike and with a promise from the group leader that it would be a slow and gentle meander through the garden I asked my mom if she would like to go. She jumped at the chance and has spent the last six weeks walking and getting into shape. At the last minute, Molly was able to join us, too, so yesterday we drove up the Mt. Washington auto road to a point just below the summit, parked our car and navigated a short steep section leading to the alpine garden.
We saw Diapensia everywhere. They grow in mats that spread very slowly. A misplaced footstep can wipe out 20 years worth of growth. The pathway is carefully marked with cairns and all along the slopes the ground is littered with pincushion mats of little while flowers.
When we weren't bending our necks to look at the tiny flowers on the ground, we gazed out over the beautiful mountains.
My mom at 75, my daughter at 20 and me turning 50 this year; the rare alpine plants and the magnificent beauty. What a day.