Anyone who has driven through Texas during the month of April will tell you that there is nothing more breathtaking than the oceans of bluebonnets that spread out for miles across the landscape.
Texans, by and large, are not winter people. We don’t know how to drive in the snow. Let me rephrase that: We don’t know how to drive when there is a *threat* of snow. Or ice. Or really cold rain. We cancel school. We cancel work. Our children learn how to build snowmen from a half-inch of sleet. We wander aimlessly in the Walmart looking for rock salt and wonder what happened to the aisle with ice-cream-making supplies. We complain. We talk about it until we are sick of each other making statements like, “You’ll miss this once summer hits” or “You will WISH it was this cold in August”.
Let me be clear. We NEVER miss the abuse of Texas winters. Sure, 113° for three weeks in a row will melt your face off, but hey, it saves on chemical peels and tanning beds. We are kind of okay with that.
April is our saving grace. The Chamber of Commerce weather and fields of bluebonnets are Mother Nature’s love. Her apology for what happened in February. We are wooed by miles of breathtaking vistas. We put up with tornado sirens, and ignore the fact that it wasn’t Mother Nature at all, but Texas Department of Transportation who sowed 30,000 pounds of seeds in September (record-scratch-sound inserted here)…what? September. When Texans really ARE sick of summer. When we have complained just loudly enough for the gods of grace to hear us and start germinating those precious seeds.
So we drive for miles…to drive through miles…of bluebonnets. To marvel. To take pictures. Every Texan has a framed photograph of their kids/dogs/loved-ones in a field of bluebonnets. And every Texan knows the feeling of finding that perfect spot, already mashed-down by previous butts. We park on the sides of interstates. We climb up rocky hills overlooking speeding 18-wheelers. We hop fences in our Sunday clothes. We brave the bees and fire ants. We park our southern asses in the mud. We tickle our babies. All to get that perfect shot. The one we will frame and put on our desk, mantel, wall, or annual Christmas cards.
We only get about three sweet weeks of this perfect blue love. Walk through any airport souvenir shop, and you would think the magic lasts year ’round. Maybe it does. Maybe those three weeks are so much more than just a southern spring photo-op. We take the pictures and paint the tiles and embroider the pillowcases so that we will have a constant reminder of that perfection. We glance at the sunlit smiling faces, framed in blue, and know that the beauty was real. We didn’t imagine it.
My office is surrounded by three fields. One of these fields fills with bluebonnets. But it is not guaranteed. Some years, they are so thick that tourists park in my lot to take their pictures. And some years, they are almost non-existent. We try to predict, based on the winter and the rainfall…but it’s anyone’s guess. This year, beyond my field, past a chain-link fence, there is a field of bluebonnets so thick that if you flew overhead I’m sure you would think it was a body of water. I am jealous. I want them in my field. Maybe it’s worse because they used to be in my field. Or, maybe it’s better.
I have experienced bluebonnet love in its perfection. I have memories and pictures to prove it. And, like all true Texans, will wait patiently for it to happen again.