little red elephants

Hello everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here today to be your guide for a trip down memory lane in search of little red elephants. You may remember me from such riveting posts as “The Day In Pictures” and “Il Giardino Di Leonardo” among so many, many others.

Here I am in an exceptionally characteristic pose. I’m in my fort.



Well, one day, a very long time ago, in fact, a very, very long time ago, the guy I live with and my mommy decided to go to Shrine Pass, which is close to Vail (he says you go over Vail Pass and then take a left, which is helpful), because Shrine Pass is noted for its wildflower displays.

The first thing that happened is they got totally lost, because the guy I live with had never been there, and when he heard the word “pass”, he thought it was a road with switchbacks and a spectacular view at the summit, the way passes are around here, but they took this old mining road instead, and wound up in the middle of nowhere. My mommy took a couple of pictures before the truck they were driving slid off the mountainside, which is what the guy I live with was sure was going to happen. It didn’t, by the way.

These are both kind of the same but focused differently, as you can tell. The guy I live with spent quite some time fiddling with these old film negatives and finally said they were “good enough”. I guess these are the males cones of blue spruce.

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They made it back to Shrine Pass “without further incident”, though I bet my mommy said something about his claim that he never got lost. There were fields full of owl’s clover (Orthocarpus sp.)




Eritichium aretioides growing in Silene acaulis

Eritichium aretioides growing in Silene acaulis










The reason it’s called Shrine Pass is because at the summit, which isn’t much of a summit where summits are concerned, is a pretty good view of Mount of the Holy Cross (14,009 feet–4270m), which used to be a National Monument, but isn’t any more. You can sort of see the cross, and the not-very-summity summit.



So, anyway, my mommy saw some little red elephants, which might sound weird but it’s the common name for Pedicularis groenlandica. Pedicularis is a parasitic plant commonly called lousewort, because people thought cows got lice if they ate the plant, which sounds both silly and gross to me. The guy I live with immediately would say that Henry Mitchell tried to remind people that “wort” almost rhymes with “word” and not “wart”, but nobody pays any attention, except me, since I’m mentioning it now.

You can probably see why they’re called little red elephants.



My mommy wanted to draw little red elephants but she never did. She started, though.







There you are. Little red elephants. We don’t grow these in the garden because they live in very wet places, and they’re parasites on something, and besides, the guy I live with says you just don’t tell people you have little red elephants in your garden, even if the people know you fairly well.

That’s my post for today. It wasn’t about me as much as it could have been, but that’s because I was asleep most of the day, even while some gardening happened between about 2:00 and 2:20 this afternoon. I’ll try my best to make an all-me post some time in the near future, and with more modern pictures.

Until next time, then.

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8 Responses to little red elephants

  1. Thea says:

    Around here, Chess, we say they’re “vintage” photographs, and quite lovely. Of more loveliness is your mummy’s start at drawings – you can just tell those red elephants would be trumpeting up a storm in finished drawings. My sweetie and I took our honeymoon thirty-ish years ago very near the photo spots, and my mind’s-eye photo of Colorado looks exactly as pictured. Some of our Southern California wildflower fields have been overtaken by exotic invasives. I wonder how your flower site fares today.
    Of course, more photos of yourself are always welcome.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with says he thinks most places are okay because not many people live there (too hard to get in and out in the winter). I’ve never been up a pass but the guy I live with says we might go next summer since the goofballs seem to have the effect of me not caring about stuff that used to be scary like mice caught in the Tin Cat and maybe even thunder.
      It took him forever to scan the film because the scanner decided not to scan the right hand group of negatives so they had to be done four frames at a time instead of eight. He says it’s pointless to get angry at inanimate objects though there temptation is always there. He’ll investigate the scanner issue further at a later time.
      I don’t know why the little red elephants never got drawn, but they didn’t.

  2. Kim Bone says:

    I feel a little like you look! But, the little red elephants, kinda cheered me up…
    Reminded me of Scrophularia macrantha…

  3. gardenut says:

    A little clarification for a ‘newbie?’ What you called clover in your photos – is that the same as the rosy paintbrush? That is mostly what I could see. Haven’t been to this site – just to Crested Butte where the wildflowers are stunning. Love the little red elephants – or elephant heads. If your mommy had finished sketching & painting those flowers the results would have been spectacular! My favorite photo you posted (besides the one of you, of course) was the Eritichium aretioides growing in Silene acaulis. Hope the guy you live with takes you up there one day – I’m sure there would be lots to sniff. And yes, you definitely deserve more than just one photo per post!

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with says it could indeed be rosy paintbrush, Castilleja rhexifolia, instead of owl’s clover. They look a lot alike. I didn’t bother to look it up or anything.

  4. The photos have a dreamlike quality.

    I missed or forgot Mitchell’s advice and have been mispronouncing “wort” for years.

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