ANTELOPE VALLEY: POPPY COUNTRY Early every spring, California poppies, goldfi elds, lupines, and more paint the Mojave Desert’s rolling grasslands, creating one of the world’s great wild- fl ower spectacles. Why here? It’s a matter of timing: these ephemeral fl ow- ers have just a few weeks to race from seed to full bloom before desert heat burns them out. The Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve is holding its own for now. But developments 15 miles east are exploding; nearly half a million people (and very few remaining antelope) now call the area home.