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earthshine

March 16, 2011

the humblest flower

I wish I could say something about wildflowers that was halfway worthy of them. From the time we moved here, when I was a very small child, it always seemed like a miracle to me to see whole fields of beautiful flowers spring up spontaneously each year. Part of the sickening heartbreak of seeing the land destroyed was the loss of those fields, forever.

We drove around Brentwood, Oakley and Bethel Island on Monday, in a very gentle rain. There are still large lots out there that are now completely covered with yellow mustard. Whenever I see them, I think of driving into Walnut Creek as a kid, coming down out of the hills over Kirker Pass and seeing field after field of brilliant yellow, all the way into town. Where were we going in those days? probably Capwells!

Anyway, my mother identified the flowers for me very early on: mustard, and lupine, and poppies, and in those days, many others as well. The mustard is the background for all the rest, however. I loved it for its brilliant color and sweet fragrance, and was fascinated by its improvisational blooming style, impulsive and asymmetric. In a cloud of them, you can’t really tell where one begins and the other ends. It is the humblest flower, but it lifts everything to glory.

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