Steppe Transition to Summer

Steppe Transition to Summer

Life in the dry steppe summer is moving on from the lush spring explosion of the “annual” plants, which burst into life for a month when it is warm and still moist.  We have had unusually plentiful rains so the ground will be holding reserves for those with tap roots – some even up to 4 meters long, to tap into cool humidity throughout the summer. 

Every time I go to Güneşköy (meaning Sun Village - 65 km wast of Ankara - though in 2000 we dreamt of a larger settlement, it has not yet grown beyond farm size) I walk the land, thinking how much Granny would have enjoyed it.  I am still noticing new flowers.  Some are so tiny, why bother?  Because it is in their genes!  Some “play dead”, never seeming to flower; when you look carefully, what looks like dried out seeds is in fact a beige coloured flower. Allium_paniculatum_mı  Another is a dandelion-looking flower, but I’ve yet to see a flower.  How to go straight from the bud to the light parasol-like seeds?  What matters is that the right pollinators know where to go. 

At around 900m above sea level, and with an average annual rainfall of under 400mm, the climate is dry.  Low air humidity means cold nights, hot days; even colder winters and more roasting summers.  Views are crisp and clear, and it is good for astronomy.  Some point to the rainfall limit of 500mm as too dry to maintain a forest. Don't forget the human impact over 10 000 years, cutting wood for heating, clearing agricultural land, etc... A controversial issue.  

Nature has been ingenious in developing creative solutions to surviving under roasting 50C summers and deeply frozen winters (we have had 70cm of snow and -25C fairly recently. 

 Soft down to shield the sun a little is now drying out, so the plants feel prickly.  Some thistles are over 2 meters tall.  So parts are simply impenetrable for humans.  Great for wildlife.  A bush we have plenty of is Paliurus spinus christi (it defends itself superbly with sharp spines in multiple directions, earning it a memorable use as Christ’s crown of thorns).  I have cut a trail through them, like a maze!  I should write about this some day. 

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