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Even as a kid, I remember eagerly waiting each spring for the bluebonnets to appear (and simultaneously dreading the arrival of the love bugs, but that’s a topic for another day). I remember being told in no uncertain terms that you never, EVER pick bluebonnets off the highway or any state road. It’s highly illegal and you don’t want to risk getting caught!
“Stop the car!” At that shout, we’d recklessly veer across 3 lanes of traffic to abruptly stop at a field (or even just the shoulder) that’s bursting with the noble blue flowers to get that perfect pic. You could tell it was a primo spot, too, because there’d usually be a few other cars and families doing exactly the same.
When my firstborn was only a baby, she was sat pristinely amongst the majestic flowers (many taller than her), wearing a perfect, traditional, white eyelet bonnet for the iconic “first bluebonnets” photoshoot I’d been waiting for my entire adult life.
Now that we’re back after being away from Texas for several years (and now with two adorable kids to feature), I’m giddy all over again thinking of all the Instagram-able possibilities as the season approaches. It’s as much a tradition as the annual pumpkin patch photo or sitting on Santa’s lap. But it’s better. Why? Because to me, bluebonnets mean “home.”
[Bit of a side bar here, but personally, I do love the Indian paintbrushes nearly as much. They don’t get as much publicity, but a country hillside blanketed in vibrant blue peppered with fiery orange is Texas natural beauty at its best.]
As we brainstormed for our Texas t-shirt shop launch designs, I was adamant that bluebonnets be involved. I mean, a Texas shop without a bluebonnet design is, well… tragic. You see, these bold, blue flowers are famous for a reason. And they didn’t just become the state flower by default.
In hot contention with the cotton boll and the flower of the prickly pear cactus to receive the official title of Texas State Flower, it was the bluebonnet that won the sacred designation, bestowed by the state legislature back in 1901. A little later on in 1971, that coveted designation was amended to include all species of bluebonnet ever (or even yet to be) discovered.
Okay, so I’m just thinking. What if the prickly pear cactus flower had in fact won the title? Can you imagine staging your children amongst the prickly pears for that perfect spring photo? “Smile, darlings, it’ll only be a second! Okay, don’t move… at all. Buddy, don’t lean on sister… wait!! NO!!!!” Sorry, Cactus Jack, but those good ol’ boys made the right call.
Now, I do have to set the record straight about picking them. It actually isn’t illegal to pick bluebonnets, unless you’re trespassing on private property to do so. Still, leaving them in peace to grow and return every year is the least we can do, right? And if you just can’t help yourself, you can always grow your own. (Or order some fake ones online… ha!)
But for the moment, we wait. Spring is just around the corner. Who knows if our recent snowmageddon has done any damage to our eagerly awaited blooms. That’s beyond our control. But what I do know is that no matter where I am or what the season, when I see a bluebonnet, my heart smiles and I think of my Texas, my home.
Home is where the Bluebonnets grow.