Remembering the Year of Needlegrass Drifts

Wet, rainy years in Southeast New Mexico bring on carpets of flora to the desert that usually remains unseen. Instead of the brown and red tones of the dusty earth, the desert turned emerald this summer. Now, as the summer fades to fall that lush, green carpet of grass dries and yellows. That yellow takes flight in the fall breeze. It’s not the leaves of deciduous trees floating out there right now; it’s needlegrass florets. 

Needlegrass florets are wispy and forked liked a treetop. A sharp barb, shaped like an arrowhead, ends the thin stalk of the floret. The barbs are notorious for getting caught in car grills, window screens, trampoline netting, and even pets! A few years ago, the needlegrass florets, buffeted by the wind, drifted into enormous piles next to houses around town. Some of the drifts reached over the tops of window frames and doorways! 

As we watch the needlegrass florets swirl and dance in the ever reliable New Mexico wind, we remember the year of the legendary drifts. 

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