I've so far spent six months in Los Angeles, taking in all the newness of the landscape. And I've ended up back home in Albuquerque for most of the summer. I was talking to my friend Heather yesterday and we had the following conversation:

Heather: I really love Albuquerque, but there's no beach. Phil: We may not have water, but we do have dirt. Heather: There's a lot that. Phil: And dammit, when I'm away from it, I miss my dirt. Every time I fly home I get so excited to see the brown.

There's a running joke that I fear only native Albuquerquians understand. It's sort of a joke about our special desert vegetation, which in its most natural state lacks many popular flowering plants. The joke goes something like this, starting first with a surprisingly common, yet innocuous, question:

Outsider: Does New Mexico have a state flower? Albuquerquian: Sure. It's the Orange Barrel.

Being away from the city for as long as I'd been, I completely forgot just how much roadwork can hit this place. First, spring hits in early April, and trees start to bloom. Next comes the inevitable "unforeseen" winter storm that freezes all the buds on the trees and drops a few inches of snow. And then it jumps right into summer, which means that it's prime time to work on the roads. Construction springs up, simultaneously, on every other major road in the city. Sort of to the point that whenever you discover new roadblocks, you can rest assured that whatever alternative route you find offers a 95% probability of road construction of its own.

I was out driving today and was fortunate enough to have my camera handy when I discovered a classic setup of construction materials. Given that it's the height of summer, the orange and white beauties are in full bloom. See below.

Construction in its natural habitat...

I'm not entirely sure what the proper term is for these puppies, but they're obviously a close cousin to the classic orange barrel New Mexico State Flower, and they're all over the place here. Cheers to summer!