What I Learned from Wildflowers

A Breath of Fresh Air


I found a gathering of yellow and blue in the center of a high meadow that was still green from snowmelt. Not far from where everything above is stripped naked by high elevation, I discovered a garden cared for by none other than the sky above. There, near the top of a peak somewhere close to the Divide, I feared I had gone astray.

Getting lost in vastness and open range is different from losing one’s way in the city. In the quiet of the mountain, sound is amplified unlike the white noise commotion of sirens and horns. High above, there is a steady din of wind that skirts slowly up the slope, swishing louder and still louder before moving on to the next peak. With eyes closed, a trickle of water running from a gap under a stone might be mistaken to be the clear and startling clatter of a true waterfall. Breath speaks loudest here. It can be held and counted and felt to be more precious than it is anywhere else on Earth.

If there are others about, they are camouflaged and hard to see. A bird within hand’s reach or underfoot might not be recognized. There are signs that a mountain goat or big sheep foraged here earlier and nearby are tracks of a mountain lion who passed by within the week. Bears would not have strayed this far up. There is no one to give direction, apart from the light of day and the far-off stripe of the road.

I am somewhere in an area that can get 500 inches of snow in one winter’s season. The cold of this skyline on a night in January might be 150 degrees below zero, in Fahrenheit. Wind gusts another time of year can equal that of hurricanes. But on this summer’s day, the wind is kind and the sun gently nurtures the fragile tundra.

Alpine Sunflowers

Breath deepens.

I look toward the clump of alpine sunflowers. They are amazingly hardy. Tenacious. Resolute. They grow on slopes and meadows in the alpine tundra, thriving where others would fail. They produce disproportionately large flowers to attract pollinating insects or birds. They are not obliged to reproduce each year and instead are prudent in use of energy. They are rooted firmly to their place and cling perennially to the community in which they grow.

In the surrounding thin air and steady sound of my breath, I recall people I know who are like this. Those I admire for the persistence it takes to survive and to flourish and to make beauty amidst a harsh world. The ones I know with quiet charisma and not magnetic charm, who may not set the world on fire but instead offer remarkable blooms to feed others. The people I know who thrive where others fail, who will come back next year even if this year’s been tough. The people I know who always make me smile. Like wildflowers make me smile.

My musings done, I think it is time to reach in my pack to pull out the GPS. But before I do, I recall that in their short months of show, the blooms of the alpine sunflower almost always face east. Which is the direction I need to go. And so, I proceed on, with only the wisdom of the wildflowers to guide me.

La Vie en Rose at Elevation

69 thoughts on “What I Learned from Wildflowers

  1. Stacia when I sit quietly to read your posts, which I do wait for, I feel myself relax. Such a gift you have. Not just the words but the beauty of your photography.
    Thank you!

  2. Another rare gift from you.These are so beautiful, have you considered a book? You truly have a gift for this and sharing that gift is amazing!

  3. It is wonderful to know that you relax and learn or take a lesson from surroundings.Nature is a best medicine to nurture our spirits and what a beautiful meadow you have stumbled upon ! I am lifted by your blog today , thank you from the bottom of my heart and much love and light on your way.-Dolly*

  4. This is the line from your post that stayed with me: “I discovered a garden cared for by none other than the sky above”.
    As always, your writing amazes me: just beautiful.

    • It is funny how words pop into our heads and occasionally grab someone’s attention. Sometimes with me it is the words that spill forth with less care and attention that seem to work. How about with you? Thank you, Dianna.

  5. A spectacular post Bella! There are no words descriptive enough to match your verbal descriptions or your photographs. I particularly love the ending with the dog enveloped in flowers. You are a wonder at this blogging stuff. πŸ™‚ Dor

  6. I am sitting tonight in a concrete jungle but my heart and soul are calmed by your gorgeous photos and soothing words. You certainly have a gift.

  7. Nature has a beautiful way of teaching us life lessons. Even the simplest flowers or insect demonstrate their strength. So happy you got a chance to enjoy the outdoors and I’m glad the flowers surrounded you. I think they were waiting for you all along.

  8. I agree that quiet charisma trumps magnetic charm. And wildflowers are most certainly charismatic. How wonderful of you to notice that– and share your thoughts & photos here. I’ll never look upon wildflowers in the same way again. Thanks.

  9. Sunflowers are my absolute favorite flower. Thank you for sharing the picture of the alpine sunflowers. I am glad they pointed you back in the right direction.
    Bella, your words are incredibly moving. You have such a gift for words. I am grateful you share your gift with us. Thank you.

    • I was raised in a state where the sunflower is the official flower Lenore Diane. I love them, in all shapes and forms. Thank you for your encouragement and presence here πŸ™‚

  10. What a marvelous day you spent! When we lived in Texas, we would take drives in the spring to revel in the wild flowers, especially the fields of bluebonnets. We have some wildflowers here in Virginia, but nothing like South Texas. We have Lady Bird Johnson to thank for that. Beautiful post, Stacia.

  11. As with some gardens, there are people who need to be constantly nourished and watered and tended. And then there are the others you referred to, the ones who find a way to flourish no matter the circumstances. I think you’re one of those, Bella. Beautiful post. I especially liked this: “Breath speaks loudest here. It can be held and counted and felt to be more precious than it is anywhere else on Earth.”

  12. Don’t know how I missed commenting on this post before but here goes. One of the many trips we took out to Colorado to visit Chuck and Carol was one strictly to travel to see wildflowers. It was one of the best ones. I can’t remember the names all of the areas but still have many pictures from that. This was a great reminder of that fun time.

  13. Bella,
    There seems to be a problem here. My email shows numerous blog posts and reblogs from you, but none of them are there when I click on them.
    Hope there is no problem.

    • There WAS a big problem. Just posted “Disaster on the Blog” to explain. I am amazed you are the first to point this out to me but maybe everyone else has already deleted my blog. Hopefully not. So sorry—and thank you for speaking up πŸ™‚

  14. Pingback: Photo of the Week: July 16, 2012 | Jeff's Blog

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