One of the things I missed about the Texas Hill Country while I lived away from it was wildflower season. I had spent my undergraduate years commuting back and forth between Kerrville and San Antonio, going in around sunrise and coming home around sunset many days. During a good wildflower year, the pinks and golds and reds of the brightening or darkening skies would be mirrored by the ribbons of highway medians and the patches of open pasture amid the oak and cedar and mesquite, such that where the ground might stop and the sky begin was not always clear, and I traveled surrounded by beauty.
Now, the swampy lands of southwestern Louisiana have their charms, the solemn cypresses standing stern and point-decked pines reaching up. The cement and steel and sheets of glass of New York City offer testament to drive and grit and stubbornness. (Wind-swept plains bespoke in song fall short of their promises.) But always, in the spring, I would think of the blues and reds and yellows and purples that spring from the thin and stony soil unbidden in the lands where I grew up, and I would nearly weep at both the remembered joy and my absence from it. Even as I write this now, I–even I–feel tears upwelling, mawkish and overly sentimental though such may show me to be.
So far, this has been a pretty good wildflower year ’round here. I still drive to San Antonio, still drive to Fredericksburg and occasionally other ways, still get to see the layered ribbons of flowers threading among the hills and the patches of open pasture that erupt in color. I see the small stands of springtime flowers in people’s front yards and along the sidewalks in my hometown, whence I once fled and where I live again. Seeing, I–even I–cannot help but smile, and I wonder if, in years to come, my daughter will feel as I do. I wonder if she will look and see and smile and, when away and thinking on such things, feel tears well up in her eyes at the beauty of the thing and the wonder of living in a world that has such things in it.
For now, I will work to let her see, to help her have it in memory so that, even if she departs and does not return, as I had meant not to return in days when I was more prideful than I now am and far less equipped to earn it, she will have beauty in her mind always. And perhaps she will learn sooner than I did the lesson that such beauty teaches; I can hope she will be a better student than I too often have been, not in the classroom but outside it, where the teaching never truly ends unless it is made to do so.