Driving and Biking in the Big City

Wildflowers and Kool-Aid

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Suckle 3I start at the gully behind my house where the Indian Paint Brush blooms today and has every year for the 15 years since I’ve lived here. Last year, a neighbor planted Bluebonnets, and they’ve sprouted in clusters this year. With its Bluebonnets and Indian Paint Brush, the gully looks just like a scene from Lady Bird Johnson’s highway dream of beautifying America with wildflowers.Bluebonnets

I take a right at the bridge and travel beside the clover along West Lake Houston Parkway until I am surprised by an Amaryllis in full bloom, growing wild next to a neighbor’s fence. It’s a beautiful, neon pink shining through the thorns and undergrowth. Unexpected beauty in the rough.

I come near the dead end of this popular, well traveled parkway where the traffic has died down into my neighborhood. A patch of clovers mark the median between city bustle and quiet suburbia. I’ve found a couple of four-leaf clovers at this patch and know I could find one again if I wanted to break the pace of today’s bike ride.

I mark many of my trails by paths with patches of clovers – some where I’ve found four-leaf clovers and others where I’ve had no luck. I typically think I can find another if I’ve found one in a patch before, and that’s been my experience since I was a young girl who looked for four-leaf clovers and caught honeybees in mayonnaise jars. Today, I enter the greenbelt behind my next-door block and pass quickly beside two, three, patches of clovers where I’ve had good luck.Amaryllis

I bike down a half mile or so and beside many unlucky patches before I come to the neighborhood swimming pool where many of the clover patches over many years have been lucky for me.

Four-leafWhen I enter the archway of thick trees that make Ghost Road so cool any time of year, I catch a scent from my childhood that reminds me of grape Kool-Aid. I know that it’s the wildflowers, perhaps the honeysuckles that drape lavishly along this way. But there are far more flowers along my path than the yellow dangling bulbs I used to pick as a child. The kids from my old neighborhood would pinch the bottom off the yellow blooms, pull the skinny stalk through the bottom of the bloom, edging out a single drop of sweet nectar that we would lap up – sometimes until we made ourselves sick.

“Buttercup, who’s your friend,” we’d say to each other when we’d find a patch of wild buttercups growing in the fields. And, for whatever reason, we thought that simple statement was an invitation to push the buttercup into our friend’s nose, leaving a smattering of yellow pollen that I presume looked enough like butter to start the tradition.

????????????????????Later in life, I would walk similar paths with my young daughter and son in tow, showing them the same tricks of nature that I’d learned as a kid. Here are the blooms that will become dewberries someday. Look out for the stickers that shelter the red then dark purple berries. Don’t pick the red ones; they are too tart. Don’t eat too many without washing them or they will make you sick.????????????????????

I show my kids the flower we called angels breath; another that looks like a bride’s bouquet. My mom had specific names for all of the flowers, but I could never remember many of them. She also knew the types of birds and trees and could pick them out specifically while I, even as a grown woman, know only a few of the simple names from my childhood and then the colors. The purple one that hangs down; the tiny yellow ones that sprout everywhere. I searched everywhere for blue flowers as a kid, and, today, it seems like there are more colors than ever. More shapes, more sizes. And the smell, when combined for whatever reason, reminds me of grape Kool-Aid. No single identifiable fragrance but the combination of many.


Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

March 30, 2013 at 11:56 am

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