Graupel - Say What?

Graupel - Say What?

Not snow nor ice, kinda both snow, and ice

Flowers blooming in June Wash, Anza Borrego State Park

I've been writing about snow recently since we don't usually get much in my neck of the woods. A friend sent me a link to an article about Graupel. I spent that afternoon going down the graupel rabbit hole and getting lost in all the different words for snow. As it turns out, the Scots have the most words for snow at 421. Graupel comes from Germanic roots and means something like "soft hail." It's basicly a snowflake that becomes wrapped in ice on its way to earth. Huh, I never knew of such a thing.

Since there are all these words to describe snow, I wondered how many words describe sand. After all, I spend most of my time in or around sand. From the beach near where I live to the remote places I explore in the American desert southwest, there is a lot of sand. So I tried going down the sand rabbit hole. It's a very shallow hole.

In googling "other words for sand," the results came back as "other words for sand" is, well, sand. Now I know that's not entirely true. Decomposed granite is used for walkways and backfill, and it's a type of sand. The Black Rock Desert, where Burning Man is held, has playa dust, a kind of sand ( I think.) It's a very alkali dust that will eat away at your skin and get into everything, but it's still sand. Some will argue that it is not dust or sand. Go camp in it for a week and see what you think afterward. I could go on about sand. You get the idea, though.

So if you are standing outside somewhere and it begins to snow, know that it could be graupel, skelf, flindrikin, or maybe you have seen a snaw-ghast (a snow ghost.) And whatever you are standing on, if it's sand or dirt, even concrete and asphalt have sand in them, it's still just sand.

This week, I have several photos to share from my recent reconnaissance trip to the local desert. The wildflowers are blooming with all the rain (and snow) we've had since last October. It's early for wildflowers, so I wanted to find out what is blooming and where. Anza-Borrego is a section of the Colorado desert near me, so that's where I headed. The north part of the park had some flowers and a lot of people, so I headed south. That is where I found quite a few flowers and very few people.
June Wash is a sandy drainage wash in the southeast park. There were beautiful areas along the north part of the wash, one pictured at the top of this essay and again just below in a panorama.
A few miles south of June Wash is Vallecito Creek Road. Again, a sandy drainage area. The areas leading up to the hills are covered in desert sand verbena and Evening Primrose, as pictured in the last two photos below.
It's hard to say how long the desert bloom will last. With more rain forecast for this weekend, we could be in for a long and beautiful flower season in the desert.

I call this "Garden at June Wash." It is so beautiful there, click the image for a larger view
I couldn't decide on which of two photos to include, so here is one of two. From Vallecito Creek Road

And here is two of two from Vallecito Creek Road