Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bluebonnet Madness

Mamas don’t let your babies eat bluebonnets. Don’t let your kiddos roll down highway embankments, either. 

I know you don’t have eyes in the back of your heads and must check light meters and swap out camera lenses, but make sure there are no fire-ant mounds in the vicinity before you settle your infant amidst the foliage.

Daddies don’t park on the left shoulder of the highway. Yes, it’s the side closest to the flower-studded median, but it abuts the passing lane, and a lot of Texas drivers take a 75-mph-speed-limit as a suggestion meant for little old ladies from Louisiana, not us.

It’s bluebonnet season in Texas, and the sight of those perky blossoms in highway right-of-ways induces madness. That clot of cars up ahead doesn’t represent an accident. Instead, it marks the location of a particularly bright, wide swath of wildflowers.

This year, the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush along State Highway 71 from La Grange past Bastrop are eye-popping. Are the bluebonnets extra blue this year or do they just look that way because the Indian paintbrush carries an extra-orange zing?

Two Sundays ago, the people stopped by the side of the road ranged from teenage girls in dress jeans, nice tees, and stilettos to three-generation groups, to brand-new parents and their infants.

It’s a tradition in southeast and central Texas to pose babies among the bluebonnets. The same parents who painstakingly research safety ratings of car seats, strollers, and cribs go a little wild during spring wildflower season, park by the side of the highway, and carry their little ones up embankments and down gullies in search of the perfect bluebonnet-filled site.  For a few minutes, at least, mom and dad don't worry about outside threats like ticks, bees, and fur-covered critters. The bluebonnet’s a powerful draw.

Some of those parked by the side of the road pose for selfies while others set up cameras on tripods. Some bring props for their photo sessions: a guitar, dogs, hats of all kinds. Some dress to blend with the bluebonnets, while others aim for contrast.

In a state sometimes wracked by partisan politics, we can all agree our wildflowers are gorgeous. Thanks, TxDOT. 

Let's drive extra friendly during bluebonnet season. The camera-toting dude we have to swerve to avoid is in the grip of seasonal madness. He's got bluebonnets on the brain.