Sunday, April 3, 2016

Texas Bluebonnets

Like most native-born and got-here-as-fast-as-we-could Texans, I'm obsessed with bluebonnets. The romance started when, as a young woman, I first moved to Texas. For me, it was love at first sight!

I was charmed by this showy plant with its silky-haired leaves, its clusters of purplish-blue flowers, its center markings of white and yellow!

And, I ask, "Who would not be smitten by something so special?"

Every year, in early April, I re-ignite the sparks of my youth by taking a road trip into the Hill Country. Like so many others, I go right after Mother Nature has painted the grasslands along the highway with sensuous strokes of blue.

History records that even early-day Spanish priests were taken with bluebonnets. They gathered the seeds and planted them around their missions. This practice, I understand, gave rise to the myth that the padres had brought the plant (Lupinus texensis) to Texas from their homeland.

But, of course, we know this cannot be true; the two predominant species of bluebonnets grow naturally only in Texas -- not at any other location in the world. 

Historian Jack Maguire so aptly wrote, "It's not only the state flower but also a kind of floral trademark, almost as well knows to outsiders as cowboy boots and the Stetson hat."

He want on to say, "The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland." 

And, so it is that we Texans head to the countryside in April, with mom and dad and kids and dogs in tow. We drive on and on, taking in the beautiful blue sights and, then, when one particular plot of ground seems prettiest of all, we park the car and pose (once again) for the traditional family photo. 

Some of these photos will be posted on Facebook. Others will be printed (as in days of old) and put in scrapbooks or frames around the house. Still others will show up on holiday cards, with a message that says, "Greetings from Texas."

Still others, like mine, will say, "Greetings! See what you're missing!"

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