Few things in nature achieve the poetry of a desert wildflower.
The beauty and the brevity of a bloom give each petal a bit of magic. They require a sweet spot of moisture (but not enough to wash away), warmth (but not enough to scorch), cold (but not enough to freeze) and windless days —an intersection of improbably perfect conditions that the desert seldom provides.
This year, in Death Valley, it happened.
My daughter and I visited at the tail end of the "superbloom," in early April — the eighth in our 12 months of national park visits. As the carpets of wildflowers rose into the foothills of the park, the valley floors were left with iridescent seedheads and skeletal stalks of yesterday's blooms to whisper the cadence of Death Valley: Life is ephemeral here.