Spring whitlow-grass (Draba verna), a diminutive mustard, is one of the first plants to flower on the Palouse. Its flowers, a few standing on each burgundy shoot, are hardly two millimeters in diameter. Patches of the plants look like salt shaken on bare ground in grassland. The flowering of spring whitlow-grass is ending. Its fruits, tiny silicles, each with a pug-nosed, pollinated stigma at its tip, are elongating. Each silicle is surrounded by its flower’s four, cleft petals, which clasp, holding tight against the fruit. This won’t last; in a few days or weeks the silicles will fill, expanding slightly with maturing seeds, and begin to dry; then the delicate, browning petals will wither and fall away.
Nothing was dry this morning. There was rain. When the rain finished, I walked on a grassland ridge where drops held tight to the clasping petals. I thought about the tension in this time. Each flower like a quest. Each fruit like will. Quest clasps will, one adhering to the other, surface to surface, in the shaky transitions of spring. The water drops, holding drying in abeyance, held all—petals, fruits, spring—together in a patch speckled by reflected glints of sun.