"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

April 7, 2013

Bluebonnets

There’s nothing better than April in the great state of Texas. Spring is in the air, the temperature is wonderful and everything is blooming, especially the Bluebonnets. The Bluebonnet was designated the official State Flower of Texas in 1901. The proper name for the species is Lupinus texensis. A typical plant is about 8” tall, with a 4” bloom. Each stem has 5 leaves, representing the five points of the Texas Lone Star. The plants grow during the winter, and then bloom around the last week of March to the first few weeks of April. Bluebonnets are native to Texas, and grow wild with no attention or care required.

When conditions are right, entire fields turn blue from the dense growth of this beautiful flower. The best bluebonnet seasons occur after very cold wet winters…the more miserable the winter, the more beautiful the spring. Since the bluebonnet plants grow all winter, it is the winter rains that are really needed to have beautiful blooms in springtime. In addition, very cold conditions help the seeds germinate, so winters with extended periods of cold will yield the densest growths of bluebonnets.

Rolling hills painted blue by these amazing flowers has become a trademark of springtime in the Texas Hill Country. Every child that has grown up in Texas has had their pictures taken in a field of Bluebonnets at one time or another. I’m looking forward to taking pictures of our grand daughter next spring. The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the tulip to Holland or the fall foliage to New England.
The above photos were taken this weekend by an old childhood friend, Debbie Abraham near Chappell Hill, Texas. Thanks Debbie for the beautiful pictures. 

The Legend of the Bluebonnets

My name is She-Who-Is-Alone. I am a Comanche Indian who lived in Texas a long time ago. When I lived in Texas, only Indians lived here. They call me She-Who-Is-Alone because my parents and the rest of my family died. They died during the drought, when it did not rain for a long time. Texas is very hot in the summer. Without rain, the crops do not grow. Without food, many people get sick and die. The horses and buffalo need water also.

When the drought came, we prayed to the Great Spirits for help. The people played the drums and danced to ask for help. Our leaders prayed also. They said, "Great Spirit, your people are dying. We need rain to grow the berries. We need food so we are strong enough to hunt the buffalo. End this drought. Tell us what we must do so you will send the rain."

One of the leaders said that the Great Spirits wanted us to make a sacrifice. That meant that everyone had to give up their most valuable possession.

I went back to my tipi to think about what I should do. I only had one thing that I loved—it was my little doll. My doll was special because my grandmother made it for me. It was made from buffalo skin. The face was painted with the juice of berries. On its head were beautiful blue feathers from a bird. I did not want to lose my doll. It was the only thing I had left from my family.

I fell asleep in the tipi. When I woke up, it was dark. I knew what I had to do. I picked up my doll and crept out to the fire.

The night was very still. The air was hot. I kissed my doll and said, "O Great Spirit, here is my doll. It is the only thing I have. It is very special. Please send the rain." Then I thought about all of the people who would die without rain, and I threw my doll into the fire.

I watched the fire until it grew cold. Then, I scooped up some ashes and threw them to the Winds.

When I woke up the next morning, I couldn't believe what I saw. The hills were covered with beautiful blue flowers, the same color as my doll's feathers.

Everyone in the village saw the flowers. They knew they were a sign from the Great Spirit. Soon it started to rain and everyone danced.

Every spring, the Great Spirit remembers my sacrifice and covers Texas with the beautiful blue flowers. The flowers are called bluebonnets. 

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