Making Space for Wildflowers

If keeping busy is a coping strategy for stress, I’m an expert at it. And luckily with a homestead, there’s no lack of things to do – especially when you are less than two years in. Build gardens, clean goat poop, install irrigation, plant things, clear trails, add infrastructure and so much more. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when a sea of projects is bearing down on you. Yet, with each checkmark scribbled onto the project list, an immense sense of satisfaction is found that you just can’t get from working in front of a computer. But occasionally, it’s important to pause and take notice of the wildflowers in your life.

Spring Time Wildflowers

In Texas, spring doesn’t gently meander in, it gallops like a wild horse! In less than two weeks the oak trees transformed from bare, hopelessly tangled branches to an exuberant burst of fresh green. The pine exploded with pollen, seemingly alerting the other plants to do the same (my white car has been lime-green for the last month now). And the wildflowers. Oh, the wildflowers!

Last year we didn’t do anything to prepare for them. We didn’t know they were here. But this year, on the advice of the previous owner, we mowed down the dead grass and spent flowers in January. And where we mowed a lush meadow of pink phlox, bluebonnets, and Indian paintbrush emerged. We even found a lone Anemone caroliniana, commonly known as Carolina anemone along the fence line. Tinged a lovely purple, it took me forever to identify since most wildflower identification books classify it as a “white” flower.

Fluttering all around the wildflower meadow is a lovely mix of butterflies. Including large swallowtails, the first of the ubiquitous monarchs, and small but aptly named painted ladies. They bounce from flower to flower adding to the kaleidoscope of color and the magic of the season. And if you sit still for any length of time, you will see a feathered friend, too.

Feathered Friends

Cardinals, Carolina wren’s, titmice, chickadees and the last of the winter sparrow residents dart in and out of the surrounding thicket. But occasionally something larger is spotted. A sunbathing roadrunner once stood in the middle of our main trail – aimed at the afternoon sun to soak in the rays. On another occasion, a wild turkey gobble-gobble-gobbled to forewarn her appearance in the front “yard”. Wary to hunters, she quickly turned tail when I tried to get in better position for a photo. And then there’s the pileated woodpeckers. These large, but extremely shy woodpeckers are a treat to see. Their peaked red cap reminds me of a punk rocker’s overdyed mohawk. It’s easy to see where the inspiration from woody the woodpecker came from.

Log Out & Step Out

This is my respite. My therapy. My reason for doing what I do. There’s no lack of things to complain about in this world. And while I won’t bury my head in the sand, I also see no point in re-watching the same talking points over and over again. Turn off your TV. And with no lack of “experts” ready to argue about everything (sans reference-able sources) I also see no point in engaging on social media. Logout.

Instead, turn to what’s real, observable, available right in front of you. Put your hands in some soil. Spend 15 minutes breathing in the scent of the wildflowers. Or just let the sun warm your face. For each of us our “why” is unique. Embrace your why. For me, that “why” is to leave a more abundant, diverse and ecologically resilient footprint on the ground I step on. With that in mind, I have some new trees to plant.