I do love this season of hiking in the Sierra Nevada. Everything is a wonder to me in this wilderness playground. I am amazed by the simplest things. Traits of a Montessori teacher, I suppose. We are conditioned to see the world from a child’s point of view. Children are fascinated by everything and they notice everything. Observing nature and delighting in it…that so-called “sense of wonder” is innate. It is only natural to feel a connection to that child’s inner sense when roaming these wilderness trails and backcountry.
One of my favorite things about early season Sierra hikes is the wildflower hunt. How I look forward to that first encounter with the first trailside wildflowers of the season! They are beautiful, of course, but I am fascinated by their seemingly random and unique traits. There’s Snowflower, whose petals are delicate enough to be crushed with a pinch of the fingers, yet his stock is strong enough to push through a layer of icy snow to bloom in the earliest spring sun. Then there’s that little white one who eagerly blooms to greet the bright morning sun, but recedes into slumber when dusk begins to fall. And Dandelion, whose common presence is a dread in one’s front lawn, is suddenly a welcome burst of sunshine along a rugged mountain trail.
In my early mountain girl days, I was completely captivated by all these flowers, growing unexpectedly beautiful, wild and free in such harsh desert and alpine environments. I was, for a time, engrossed in the task of photographing, identifying and cataloging each and every new flower I happened to encounter. My sense of wonder was heightened, but it waned a bit as life evolved and this worker bee got busy. I was, and still am, overwhelmed by the many varieties of flowers to be found on the desert floor and in the alpine backcountry. I have long given up trying to distinguish this little white one from that and identifying all those yellow ones. I simply love the sight of them. Now I am content to be able to snap a portrait of these beauties playing hide-and-seek with the sunlight or dancing in the breeze. And when I stopped to take a closer look, they revealed a whole new life to me. They have so much personality and soul, these wild wonders!
Enjoy your wanderings and wondering. And don’t forget to stop and take a closer look :)
Earth laughs in flowers.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson