Springtime in El Paso means poppies along Transmountain. The calendar might say February, but in the borderland that is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from warmer weather. The annual poppy festival doesn't happen until Saturday, March 23, but you can check out a carpet of poppies right now.

I took these photos near the Border Patrol Museum. The little clumps of golden poppies are so pretty against the earth tones of the desert that it's almost hard to believe that they are real. If you go check out the poppies, just remember to not pick them to take them home. To propagate in the wild, the flowers have to dry out and then the seeds are scattered by the wind. If you take the poppies home, there won't be any seeds to grow into next year's poppies. You can always buy a packet of seeds at any garden store. They're usually just a couple of bucks for an envelope of seeds.

1. Poppies in desert grasses with mountains

Patricia Martinez

2. Even in areas with just a few poppies, the mountains and sky are worth the drive to Transmountain

Patricia Martinez

3. A scattering of poppies

Patricia Martinez

4. Desert trees ring this area of poppies

Patricia Martinez

5. Closeup of poppies

Patricia Martinez

6. A carpet of poppies

Patricia Martinez