ALL OF THIS DAMPNESS... is prompting skiers to turn their goggles in the direction of the mountains, and their favorite slopes, with visions of morningtime runs and awesome fresh powder in view. For when a lot of precipitation arrives in early January, a lot of cold, flaky stuff has a way of falling in just the right spots (i.e. our state's mountain resorts). But there are other devotees of the damp who spend the early part of a new year not looking in the direction of the mountains but, rather, the deserts. These are the wildflower fans, the adventurers who can't wait for the very first substantial sighting of the desert dandelion or the chuparosa or beautiful brittlebush. True, the floweriest time of the year in California's more arid landscapes is still a ways out, but not by much, and wildflower-watching sites are active and, of course, making note of all the early-January rain (and what good that might do for the pretty February and March buds).
SO WHAT TO DO... in advance of the late-winter show, which can be a mite unpredictable, timing-wise? Have a few open weekends, or days, around the middle of February to the middle of March is a solid plan for the desert flower devotee, just in case your favorite flower suddenly springs up, carpet-like, in a canyon that's a few hours away. A bud buff might also consider booking a hotel or stay-over if going more than a couple of hours from home (especially in more remote spots where lodging is rare and can fill up). If you want to follow along with the upcoming 2017 reports about the amazing Anzo Borrego Desert State Park, which has a knack for putting on a notably petal-pretty show around the second month of the year, keep an eye on DesertUSA, the Anza-Borrego Foundation, and the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, which has an early "here and there" flower report up as of Jan. 4, 2017. More rain, more blooms? There's snow for skiers up in the mountains, but, very soon, the desert'll welcome its annual colorful show.