The West Ablaze- With Wildflowers


Courtesy of Almita Bey Carrion
Photo of California poppies by Almita Bey Carrion

The west is ablaze. The wildflowers in California are ablaze with wildflowers, not with wildfires but flowers. The blooms along the west coast are so intense they can be seen from space! But the long drought is also over in the nearby high desert of the Pinion mountains of northern Nevada.

Around seven on Friday morning, the dogs and I hiked up the mountain trail a few hundred yards behind our home. It had been several weeks since we had last climbed the path. Consequently, the fragrance of the sage, the rarely seen Indian Brush hiding behind the sage were unexpected treats.

Before we get to the paint brush, here is a photo of what we usually see as we hike: A winding dirt path with desiccated vegetation: Drab, colorless and stark land. Exactly what we expect in the desert.

my two dogs and I hiking the mountain trail

But Friday morning, we saw these beauties peeking behind the sage brush. 

A few yards later, a more developed version of these beautiful Indian Paint Brush wildflowers:

Indian paint brush wildflowers seen from Alaska through Colorado


But it was the vast profusion of purple wildflowers when we approached the stream, about a third of the way up the mountain, that stopped me. Unfortunately, my photographer friend Almita was not with me to photograph the carpet of purple adorning the wide fields on either side of the trail. Consequently, I had to search for a facsimile on line. This photograph taken in Utah approximates closely what I saw on either side of as we climbed higher on Friday morning. That purple is so vivid it saturates the air, as if the color rises far above the ground, like this:a carpet of purple wildflowers in the Utah desert

A virtual purple carpet. Laughing to myself, because I knew precisely what Almita would say about this astounding display: “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” Indeed, how can someone continue on without drinking in, relishing, even reveling in that astounding color?

The first time she said this I was stunned since Almita does not speak with epithets, ever. Noting my evident surprise, she chuckled and asked, “Didn’t you read The Color Purple by Alice Walker? I love that book…and that statement.” I had not read the book but remembered the story well from the movie where Whoppi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey made their debuts.

After some research on the context of the phrase in the book I never read, I think I understand just why Alice Walker used those exact words. The main character is a young black woman named Celie, memorably played in the movie by a young Whoppi Goldberg. Celie was a slave who had endured about every dreadful thing possible for a woman, a human being. But, Walker admonishes her readers, none of our horror, pain, betrayal, sorrow or losses are acceptable excuses for turning our backs to the created beauty placed in front of us, here and now.

My life and some of the people in it have taught me that not all of us are capable of heeding the sudden breakthroughs of unexpected loveliness in this world. I have come to believe that it is grace which grants the capacity to do so. Here are a few reasons why I say this:

On another early morning many years ago, while out running in Houston, I dropped to my knees at the splendor of the sunrise. Alone on the woodsy path, I laughed at the joy I felt, should not be feeling, because my life was in tatters. My husband had just announced that he wanted a divorce, and yet here I was on my knees in praise of a God I claimed I did not believe in.

A decade and a half later, now driving through a western Massachusetts fall on the way to work, I pulled off the road to gape in awe at the splendor of the foliage, astonishing splendor unnoticed by so many as they raced past the spectacular display. Those maple trees seemed to shout, “Look at me, a red you will see nowhere else but on me!”

I understand now why Almita memorized that wonderful phrase, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” Here is the actual context of a letter written by Celie about her best friend, a woman named Shrug.

Here’s the thing, say Shrug. The thing I believe. God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it find it. And sometime it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don’t know what you looking for…. She say, my first step from the old white man was trees. Then air. Then birds. Then other people. But one day I was sitting quiet and feeling like a motherless child, which I was, when it came to me: that feeling of being part of everything, not separate at all. I knew that if I cut a tree, my arm would bleed. And I laughed and cried and run all around the house. I knew just what it was. In fact, when it happen, you can’t miss it…

Oh, she say, God love all them feelings. That’s some of the best stuff God did….Listen God love everything you love and a mess of stuff you don’t. But more than anything, God loves admiration.

You sayin’ God vain? I ast.

Nah, God not vain, she say. Just wanting to share a good thing. I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.

Profile photo of Lin Wilder
Prior to her decision to switch to fiction, Lin Weeks Wilder had published over 40 articles and book chapters as well as a textbook. She has also written four self-help books. Lin’s first novel, The Fragrance Shed by a Violet, was published in July of 2015. The second edition, The Fragrance Shed by a Violet: Murder in the Medical Center and the sequel, Do You Solemnly Swear are available to purchase on Amazon. When asked why she chose to create a second edition, Lin quotes Chesterton, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly” and explains that the multiple errors in the first edition begged to be fixed. The third in her series, A Price for Genius, was planned for a spring release but has been preempted by a non-fiction account of an “unplanned surprise” story of the return to faith, Finding the Narrow Road; A Love Story now available at Amazon and other major distribution sites.

In her free time, Lin Wilder enjoys exercising, hiking, listening to beautiful music, gardening and last but certainly not least, reading. She is married to a former Marine and psychologist with 25 years of experience counseling ex- combat veterans. They reside in Northern Nevada with their two dogs.
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