Only an inexperienced and ignorant person can seriously call the Steppe monotonous and boring. Such a person just probably has never been to the steppe in spring. Because spring in the Steppe is… spring in the Steppe!
The biological strategy of the majority of steppe plants is simple: a plant has to finish blossoming as early as possible, during that short period when the soil is already out of winter frost, but is still soaked enough with snowmelt waters. It has to do it so that afterwards it could lay dormant in the form of a tiny seed, or a bulb, up to the next year. Thanks to this botanical property, every spring we can watch one of the richest in pure colours pictures on Earth: flowering steppes, when suddenly and in no time every single thing here revives, germinates, and literally explodes in billions of delicate and gentle flowers.
The tulip revolution
…Snow in hollows is still thawing, but tulips are already blossoming. Why, Kazakhstan is not only a motherland of apples, but a fatherland of tulips, too. And although the number of local tulips in wild has become much lesser in recent years, it is still possible for everyone to view them in bloom.
There are dozens of sorts of this elegant flower in Kazakhstan. They are basically named after their discoverers, protectors, and organizers of expeditions: tulips of Вehm (tulipa behmiana), Buhse, Albert, Kolpakovskiy, Regel, Ostrovskiy, etc. And, despite the fact that all of them have the similar shape of a classical tulip flower, they all look different enough. We could not but recall the wise Matsuo Bashō:
There are so many of them in the fields!
Each one blooming in its own way:
This is a flower’s highest feat.
The poppy insanity
But in southern areas of the republic the bloom of steppes impresses still more by its ‘poppy insanity’. It is a case of not that sinister violet opium poppy, but of the wild corn poppy, or redweed, which is a live standard of the pure red colour.
When they say that ‘earth is covered with the carpet in one piece’, we take it as a metaphor and byword. But in this case the image of the heavy carpet is not very accurate. Because actually, this total poppy covering is alive. It buzzes with ‘high voltage’ of bees and catches the littlest puff of the wind, to quiver, play, and blaze up with all the colour of its non-burning fire.
The fact that this period of time is so short gives this phenomenon one more reckless and charming advantage. Just within a month nothing will remind you of this spring insanity. The steppe burnt down by the scorching sun will resemble a depressed and tired-out jade, and will not gladden the eye with a single trace of life any more.
In the footsteps of al-Khidr
But, on a global scale, the Steppe is flowering not so rapidly. The motley stretch of flowers and flowers only, which can be observed even from Space, moves towards the North more and more each hot day. We recall the legend about al-Khidr, a very archaic spirit of nature: everything under his gaze begins to blossom. It is obvious that he is not really into the scorching heat and thus every spring he roams from the south to north.
So, for connoisseurs, experts, and enamoured ones the blossom of steppes lasts for several months. And it is not limited by tulips and poppies only. Have you had a chance to see a giant fennel’s phantasmagoria, or coral bean’s riot of colour? And have you ever seen rosehip’s frenzy or ziziphora’s stupefying rage? You haven’t? Then, let me congratulate you: you still have so many motivations to live and to visit Kazakhtsani steppes!