The land was buzzing this week. I took to the road to have a few hours in the country, to check on my peaches and see which flowers are blooming. The grass has gotten so high that my bluebonnets are almost lost from view until I got right on top of them. And then upon finding them again, I was so pleased to see that they were, yes, fading, but at the tops of some of the stems, just under the blooms, many have formed seed pods. So in their graceful exit from spring they are ensuring their renewal in years to come. It is almost a greater gift than the blooms themselves. The pods look like beans, and prove that this flowering plant of such renown in Texas, is, in fact, a legume. In several weeks the pods will open and drop hundreds of seeds at the base of these first year blooms. Such a hopeful way to fade.
I followed my husband out into the fields of grass to simply be in his orbit while he worked. I took my camera to document the wildflowers on the land, that now feel like my children. I have never had the gift of, or urge to, learn taxonomy and the complicated names of plants and insects but now I do.
The seemingly quiet countryside was a cacophony of sound, though the kind of sound that stays under one’s conscious awareness. When I tuned in the sound of the grass and world at my feet, I was stunned by a tidal wave of buzzing. Millions of winged creatures, gnats, bees, butterflies, and other flying insects were invisibly working and reveling all around me. The sound, once I let it in, was deafening. Were I phobic about insects, I would have found it terrifying. It was that pervasive.
Notably, a thistle was blooming with huge white flowers. A plant that when not in bloom is something of a nuisance, was glorious in the field. Each white flower opened like some fleshy reversed parachute and the yellow pollen made intoxicating baths for bees. When I finally, as with the noise, focused my eyes on the minutia of the bloom, I found insects rolling and glorying in the yellow powder. The bees looked drunk and jubilant. They were so distracted by their work that they didn’t mind a huge glass lens stuck into their universe. As with my bluebonnet walks, a burst of color once found led to another and another and another. The camera allows me to collect these jewels of the spring and move on without having to pull them from their basking reach for glory. It is fleeting enough as it is. Next week they will be replaced by others for me to find and identify.
I was struck by my fascination with the birth pangs of each bloom, how the petals are tightly folded and spun into a green pod until the plant is ready to let go. To think, this goes on and on every second of every day of every year, mostly unseen.
I have dozens of gnat bites to remind me all week of my time in the grass. I have photos to remind me forever of those few hours. My photographs are not perfect. Every time I look at them I see how I could have done better, been more still, used a different setting, thought of the million little things that make a photograph timeless, instead of just a picture. One has to achieve a certain amount of competency to recognize what separates the enthusiast from the artist.
But my photos are my moment trapped in amber. They are my way of thanking this little spot in Clay County for the not at all subtle beauty and the below consciousness symphony that its plant and insect inhabitants perform all year long, not for me but for a primal and eternal drive for living.