“…Now that your rose is in bloom, a light hits the gloom on the grey.” – Kiss From a Rose (1994) Recorded & composed by: Seal.
Spring is springing in Texas. As we knock on the door of April, there’s visible signs breaking through. The cover shot above is the celebrated Bradford Pear just across the street from my place. I always watch from the blooms from this tree as I equate its awakening to Easter season.
A Texas spring is kicked off by an explosion of a rainbow of colors along the highways, side streets, and pastures.
Just hit the nearest entrance ramp to an interstate, or more rural state highway, and soon your eyes will be filled with Indian Blankets, Black Eyed Susans, Pink Primroses, and Indian Paintbrushes. No need to plant them, although many do for strategic landscaping displays, just expect these little scenic treasures.
However, the most beloved, the most watched-for, the most valued would the the Texas State Flower…the Bluebonnets.
It’s guaranteed that if a blue-eyed person sits among the Bluebonnet patches, the shade in the eyes radiate. In fact, as you drive along the freeway, it’s not unusual to see families taking pictures of their kids among the Bluebonnets. I’ve personally witnessed a bride, fully decked out in her gown, posing in the Bluebonnets for the professional photographer. Our next door neighbors followed suit. Before they were married, he came from Oregon, and she was raised in Florida. After they settled here in Texas they couldn’t wait to have their family photo taken among the Bluebonnet blooms. They knew just what to drag out of their closet, too. Sweet family.
Earlier I said you can find them mainly in patches. It’s true. Rarely will you find a large crop of them, like a cornfield. But frankly, I like it that way. When driving along plots of the Texas State Flower, it just seems to push the unanticipated joy button.
Texas wildflowers are brilliant, especially when nature is used to cluster them like a painter’s palette mix. It’s fairly normal to witness Bluebonnets intermingling with the yellows of Sunflowers, the ambers and mauves of Indian Paintbrushes, and the golden winks you catch from the Buttercups. Mowers are careful to mow around them. However, I hate to throw a wet blanket on it all. There is a down-side.
Here in Texas, most wildflowers don’t last long at all. If you are a Texan, you know to take those pictures while you can. Our prized Bluebonnets wave howdy only for about five or six weeks. The perennials usually peak in mid April. By May most wilt away, not to be seen again until mid March, or so. For those who diligently watch for them in March, it’s a somewhat sad time when the Bluebonnets begin to fade and say goodbye.
My great-grandmother, on my mom’s side, was well known for her green thumb. Everything she touched turned green. She lived in Cash, Texas, a small farming community about sixty-five miles east of Dallas. Her little frame house, some would say cottage, was built on the edge of one of her brother’s pastures. Sometime in the mid 1960’s, she planted daffodils along the exterior of the foundation. I remember playing in the barn next to her little house watching her carefully tend to them about this time of year. Some would eventually wind-up in a vase on her farmhouse dining table .
In 1971, she passed away while sleeping peacefully in her bed at the young age of 61. The house, long since removed, can be easily imagined as you drive up to the spot. There, along the outline of the old forgotten house, are daffodils blooming each and every spring. I don’t drive out there often, but when I do, it’s this time of year. You can count on me to stop the car, gaze at the piece of land, and smile. The perennials line up, just as they did in 1966, testifying that Ella Swindell once lived on that spot.
“…you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” – James 4:14 (NIV)
Our Bluebonnets, and other Texas wild flowers, are a welcomed sight. But the sweet and sour is reality. We all admire the beauty, knowing all the while they are short-lived, as the dry Texas sun dictates.
As I get older, I learn so much more than I ever thought I would. If you’re over fifty years old, you know what I’m talking about. Not only do we gain knowledge and wisdom (hopefully) we also experience the fragility of life. Pick a topic. What fades away after its prime? What weakens with wear or age? Could it be the cushy job? Can it be a bank account? Dare I mention relationships? Like a patch of Sunflowers and Bluebonnets, stellar health, often taken for granted, in a single moment collapses. What about that mid-life crisis red Corvette, once driven with pride, grows old, chipped, and rusty? Then there’s someone’s model home, the floor-plan of which is the envy of every neighbor to the right and left, sags with age while the pipes and foundation cracks. Everything depreciates. Everything thins and erodes. Everything we touch, feel, see, and taste is temporal.
So James would write, “What is your life?” It’s a hard question when not distracted elsewhere. Right?
I think the Bluebonnets, if they were able to verbally communicate, would urge us onward. I can almost hear them say, “It’s okay. Bloom where you’re planted, no matter how short the time may be.” Jesus said we should not take the light, the Spirit of God planted within each who He calls His own, and hide it under a bowl. The light within is there to share in a darkened world for others to see, and be drawn to the glow of what is done in love for others. Can the scorching sun beat us down to wither for a time?
Sure. Yet, the Creator speaks truths in nature to show we can, and will be, perennials.
So, I say, Bluebonnets don’t bloom for the short span only to take selfies. They bloom to shine out God’s artistry for our eyes and hearts. And so are we.
Arise from the dirt. It can be done when nourished with fuel for the race.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” -Isaiah 40:8 (NAS)