Backpacker

Sense of Place: Plant ID

THE WIND WHIPS THROUGH the sumac grove’s twisted branches. The leaves are tomato-sauce red, and the shrubs hunch over the trail from either side, as if skeptically regarding the dirt path between them. The sky is a chilling gray, and I’m shivering. The car—and its heater—are close, but I’m busy.

I kneel in the dirt on the side of the trail, just beyond the sumac’s reach, and thumb a blade of grass to

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