Each year the arrival of spring in El Paso is heralded by the blooming of hundreds of thousands of bright yellow poppies on the eastern side of the Franklin Mountains. These vibrant flowers that cover the desert floor like a lush, yellow carpet are the result of a beautification project (and tourism draw) that was initiated in 1931 by the El Paso Poppy Club; donations collected by the club allowed for the purchase of some 112 pounds of poppy seeds, which were then planted on approximately 56 acres of mountainside and mesa land by volunteers.
The irony of this tourist draw is that the bulk of the poppy fields lie within the Castner Range, an area that was formerly used by Fort Bliss as a firing range; access is restricted to this day due to unexploded ordnance, or ammunition, that remains in the desert. Fortunately, the El Paso Museum of Archaelogy maintains clearly-marked walking trails that safely allow one to witness the beauty of the poppies up close.
So of course I couldn't help but experience a mild panic attack each and every time Sammy attempted to go rogue and head off of the marked path that meandered through the desert scenery (all of the signs warning of the dangers of "unexploded projectiles" every hundred feet or so didn't help much either).
Hopefully we'll get some rain that will prolong the poppies' stay--I can't help but smile whenever I see all of that cheerful yellow spread out across the once barren desert landscape.