One of my favorite books is The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola. Based on old Comanche oral tales, he traces the beginnings of the gorgeous Texas state flower, the bluebonnet…which is my avatar. You’d also enjoy Jan Brett’s Armadillo Rodeo where she features bluebonnets throughout the book.
I’ve always been just a bit obsessed with bluebonnets. As a child, I would go in the pastures with my grandma and aunt to see what bluebonnets the new spring had graced the central Texas landscapes. Every year, I’d insist on digging up one of the plants to take home with me so I could have bluebonnets on Elizabeth Dr. Every year, my grandma would tell me that you can’t dig them up. Transplanting them is touchy business. But I’d try. And fail. Every year. That didn’t stop me from picking a nice bouquet tho to take to school the next day. But that didn’t really work well either. By morning, they’d be all droopy and sad.
But I still loved bluebonnets in the spring. And I don’t remember a spring without them….going out to the farm was insurance that I’d get to feast my eyes on oceans of blue along the way. Later, after I married and moved to West Texas, the bluebonnet treks became sparse…the only time I got to see them was when we’d go home to my parent’s, who by now, lived in the country and had their own bluebonnet stand! You could smell them early in the mornings when the humidity was high. Heaven. Pure heaven.
Once we landed in Kansas, I was again determined to grow the stubborn little flowers and discovered that they don’t really take to the rich Kansas soil. They much prefer rocks. And sand sprinkled with hornytoads, cactus and rattlesnakes. I managed to get some seeds to sprout once and they had some puny blooms that spring, but they disappeared the next spring. Didn’t they know they’re supposed to come up every spring? I tried buying potted plants at the local farm/fruit stand in my hometown, then haul them 500 miles north, but they didn’t fare well either.
Years later, I just try to get to Texas in time for the bluebonnet craze to hit central Texas. I can usually start seeing them about 100 miles north of Brownwood….around Breckenridge. I always call Mother from there to let her know that the bluebonnets have arrived!! From there, the blue haze multiplies and if I keep going south on to Austin, it’s like G-d dumped blue paint all over the whole state! With little sprinkles of Indian Paintbrush and Buttercups.
If you’re looking for a good children’s book, try dePaola’s books. The stories are wonderful and his illustrations are unique! And you might just be tempted to visit Texas this spring. There’s a whole culture of bluebonnet seekers/groupies with trails of the best pastures mapped out for visitors. Texans take their bluebonnets seriously! Texas A&M has a whole study dedicated to bluebonnets and their breeding. They’ve even come up with, yes, Maroon Bluebonnets. You won’t believe your eyes!
Update: see HERE for more Bluebonnet Stuff!! 🙂