I took myself on a trip to go hunting for wild poppies. To be honest, it wasn’t much of a hunt. I had a location, maps to show me the way, and a whole day to follow wherever the road might lead me. I generally get lost when I’m by myself — a map doesn’t do much good if you’re driving and can’t look at it, and non-existent road signs only exacerbate the problem. (A gps in my phone doesn’t help if the battery goes dead.) Still, I took only a couple of easily corrected wrong turns. I drove on long stretches of desert highway, and then I saw it . . . a poppy nodding in the wind by the side of the road, and I knew I was on the right track.
Gradually, the poppy blooms increased — lining the roads with streams of color.
Off in the distance, the hills glowed orange, and my heart quickened at the realization I was in for a special treat.
Many people just stopped by the side of the road to take photos of the poppies, but I paid to enter the reserve and walk along the miles of paths. I heeded the rules and did not feed, pet, pick, or trample the wild poppies. The reserve is a natural habitat, with no artificial stimulation, not even any watering. The land is left alone to do with as it wishes. And this year it wished to shower me with color.
Oh, my. I’ve never seen anything like those swaths of poppies — it was as if a sunset had fallen from the sky and lay at my feet.
It truly is good to know that in all the turmoil of the world, in all the fights between industrialists and conservationists, in all the swirl of population growth, in all the land-grabbing and land-grubbing, there exists these pristine spots where we can refresh our souls.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.