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Fendler’s Bladderpod blooms in Placitas
Photo credit: —Mary Lee Dereske

Hills of liquid sunshine

—Mary Lee Dereske

It starts with a single drop of yellow, a bright spot out of the corner of the eye. Two or three days later, the single drop becomes fifty, then a hundred, then thousands of yellow droplets across the landscape melding into a covering of liquid sunshine across the rocky hills and mesas of Placitas.

This is spring in New Mexico. The tiny Fendler’s Bladderpod (Physaria fendleri or Lesquerella fendleri) marches forth, making up for its small size with a population so dense and populous it makes itself known a half-mile away with a golden glow.

Fendler’s Bladderpod, a member of the Mustard family (Brassicaceae), is the common Bladderpod in the Placitas area. The plants are small tufts of grayish green, covered with flowers comprised of four yellow petals with a darker orange spot in the center. There are well over a dozen different genera throughout the west and the Great Plains area.

On an early mid-April morning, I hike up and over the hills in the Placitas Open Space. Everywhere I am surrounded by Fendler’s Bladderpods. The plants range from only an inch wide and tall, with three to four blossoms, to a foot or more wide and six inches tall with what must be over a hundred blossoms.

Augustus Fendler, for whom this ubiquitous plant is named, collected a Bladderpod specimen from the Santa Fe area in 1847. A naturalist and botanical collector for the renowned botanists Asa Gray and George Engelmann, Fendler’s collection from his 1846-1847 New Mexico trip was highly praised by Gray. At least a dozen different plants were eventually named for him.

Fendler’s subsequent expedition to New Mexico in 1849 did not go as well. He “lost all of his gear, notebooks, specimens—everything—in a flood. When he returned to St. Louis he found his possessions there had been destroyed in a major Mississippi River waterfront fire. Dejected and disgusted, he left the United States for a number of years and never returned to collecting in the Southwest.” (From Biographies of Naturalists,  www.swcoloradowildflowers.com)

I tentatively snip a small stem of Fendler’s Bladderpod and hold it in my hand. The gray-green stem is rough to my touch. When I raise it to my nose, I do not detect any aroma, so I crush it between my fingers. The yellow flowers slightly stain my fingertips. The small bladders of the spent blooms pop easily with the pressure. At the edges of my senses, I detect a slight scent, soft and dry, unremarkable.

Looking over the fields of yellow, I realize if this small plant had a scent, it would be too heady, too strong for the senses. Instead, it is liquid sunshine to my eyes.


Friends of Martha Liebert Library celebrate fifty years

—Margaret Palumbo

The Martha Liebert Library in Bernalillo celebrated its fiftieth-year anniversary on April 11, 2015. The celebration was an opportunity for Martha Liebert to gather together all of the wonderful and well-deserving folks who had put their time, energy, talents, and considerable efforts into helping to establish a library in Bernalillo. It was the coming together of so many people who brought the library into existence and kept it alive though the years. The library, these days, can be found right around the corner from the spot it once occupied on Camino del Pueblo at 124 Calle Malinche, and is open Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. For further information about Bernalillo’s Martha Liebert Library, stop in or call 867-1440.


Photo credit: —Courtesy of Sandoval County

Nick Molinari, from Corrales Fire Department, and Adam Getty from Rio Rancho Fire Rescue, assist the patient down a short section of trail on Cabezon.

The Careflight helicopter, which is stationed at a Sandoval County Fire Department facility, takes off from Cabezon Peak after dropping off a rescue crew.

Injured hiker rescued from Cabezon Peak

—Jessica Duron-Martinez

Firefighters from the Regional Response Team, which is comprised of members from Rio Rancho Fire Rescue, Sandoval County Fire Department, and Corrales Fire Department, responded to an injured hiker on Cabezon Peak on the afternoon of April 4. Initial reports indicated that the hiker, an adult male, had fallen and sustained a leg injury, needing assistance in getting down the mountain. When the team arrived, they were quickly shuttled to the top of the peak by a Careflight helicopter, which was also deployed to assist with the extrication of the patient.

After a short hike from the peak, the crew was able to find the patient on a ledge a few hundred feet from the top of Cabezon. He reported that he had fallen and tumbled, injuring his knee and ankle. Paramedics performed an assessment and provided some initial treatment for his injuries and began to plan for his extraction to safety and for transport to medical care. It was quickly determined that a hoist operation from a Blackhawk helicopter would be the safest and most efficient method to accomplish these goals. The state Search and Rescue coordinator was contacted to request resources from the New Mexico National Guard.

In order to facilitate the helicopter operations, the crew began to move the patient through a series of short evolutions utilizing ropes and harnesses to move the patient down the trail. Patient and crew safety were the top priority of the team as they methodically moved the patient to a more assessable location. Once the helicopter arrived, the patient was hoisted by the crew and transported for evaluation. The crew was then able to complete their journey to the base of Cabezon.

The Regional Response Team concept has been in place for about a year with the members from each department participating in cooperative training and standardized procedures. The program helps to facilitate a quick and efficient response to technical rescue incidents within Rio Rancho, Corrales, and Sandoval County.

 
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