There are so many things I love about this time of year. The sunlight is beautiful, the temperature is perfect, butterflies flutter about in the breeze and the desert floor is covered in a colorful carpet of wildflowers. And Spring Break. Oh, how I look forward to that little reprieve and that relaxing of the schedule. Hikes with the hubby, days out with the dogs, chasing butterflies and hunting wildflowers. These are the things I look forward to with childish delight as spring fever runs rampant and that blessed bit of time approaches. Time for thinking, time for breathing, time for reconnecting with myself and my space. Time for finding my balance.
Of course, I always rush into it engulfed in that cloud of hustle-bustle energy that takes a few days to shake. The busy work week’s end sends me spiraling into a play-packed weekend which is gone in a flash. Those first weekdays off are spent recovering, catching up and wondering…what happened to the weekend? It’s about this time, midweek, that I start to feel relaxed enough to make some plans for myself.
Those plans always include a quiet picnic, a doggy day out and a wildflower hunt. Those are the must-do’s on my spring break to-do list. Springtime in this desert is fleeting, and if you blink you’ll surely miss it. I am not a regretful kind of person, but I do always regret those moments when I realize I missed something beautiful and amazing simply because I didn’t take the time. I have come to realize that you cannot really make time to do the things you love in life. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, can’t change that. You have to take the time when you can. So, I set aside my time, determined to capture those fleetingly beautiful spring moments.
After a lazy start to my midweek morning, I gathered together some odds and ends from the fridge and packed myself a little picnic lunch. With some fresh veggies left from last week’s produce box and a bit of leftover miso-citrus dressing from the night before, I made a bright and cheery spring salad to go. I wrapped it up along with the last of the homemade hemp hummus, some crackers and a blueberry-acai smoothie from the freezer for dessert.
While I packed up for a day outdoors, the dogs began working themselves into their typical frenzy. It starts when I emerge from the bedroom with hiking boots and a hat. It escalates as I fetch the water bottles from the cupboard. It becomes unbearable when I bring out the backpack. By the time I finally open the door, granting them access to the vehicle that will ultimately drive them to freedom, those hounds are nothing but a frantic whirlwind of commotion. Panting, whimpering, yipping, hopping about like fleas, running into furniture, tipping plants and toppling humans…clearly, they dearly love their outdoor playtime. I can relate, poor pups, but it certainly sets a frazzled sort of tone for a day in the wildflowers.
Once we all got settled in the car and on the road, I slowly began to regain my relaxed state of mind. There’s nothing like a clear, bright, beautiful spring day to bring you back to calm. We drove up nearby Indian Wells Canyon to a little pull-out just perfect for picnicking, running around and photographing flowers.
The flowers were hardly profuse, but there were a few little lovelies scattered about. Now, the butterflies, on the other hand, were everywhere! I really wanted to capture the beauty of it, somehow. I had visions of capturing butterflies flitting amongst the flowers, resting on a desert bloom, fluttering in the breeze, but no such luck. They weren’t going to play my game and the dogs were no help. Glued to my side, panting in the warm desert sun, frantically trying to anticipate my every move, those darn dogs continued that whirlwind frenzy in the great outdoors…most certainly not conducive to photographing butterflies.
I turned my focus to the flowers. Looking for the perfect bloom, crouching low, getting in close, framing it just so…only to catch it falling out of the frame, waving in the wind, blowing out of sight. Again and again, as if to tease, “catch me if you can, hehe!”.
I tried, I really did. The yellow ones wouldn’t stop swaying, the dandelions danced slightly out of formation, the fiddleneck fidgeted just enough to blur each shot and the purple mat withered at my very attempt. Only the desert pincushion was in a slightly cooperative, yet uninspired mood.
I was starting to work myself into a little frustrated whirlwind of my own. This may be my one day, my only chance for wildflowers this year. I missed it last year. Something will get in the way tomorrow, someone will need my attention, the flowers will be gone any day. If I don’t get them now, I will miss it! This is my moment, I took the time, I need to get my flowers!
It may sound a little dramatic, a little ridiculous. But this panic over missing my wildflower moment stems from that once-adored leisurely pursuit of hunting, photographing and cataloging wildflowers. It was something that endeared this place to me when we first made this unknown our home. It is one of those things I love to do, fallen by the wayside as time moves faster and life gets busier. Sometimes it’s hard to let things go.
Finally, after trying unsuccessfully to wrangle in a lovely little orange poppy, I caught myself getting wound up in that funnel of frustrated energy and I heard a tiny voice whisper, pause. This is what I say to the kiddos at school when they are getting wound up, frustrated and out-of-sorts…pause, find your place for peace and then we’ll try again. Ah, those little owls, they do know how to put me in my place.
So, I paused, I looked around and I realized this is my place for peace. So why am I getting worked up? I do understand why, of course. In the midst of things, it is not always easy to let go of your expectations for that perfect moment. It can be difficult to sit yourself down, see things for what they are and simply enjoy it. The truth is, whether or not you capture yourself a memento – that tangible reminder that you did, indeed, take that little bit of joyful time for yourself – that time will come and go and never be again. So, is it not best to focus your mind’s eye on that moment? To really see it, to breathe it, to truly be in it? Well, I think so.
I fetched my bandana-wrapped picnic, set myself down in a carpet of flowers and ate my lunch while quietly taking in the view. In stillness I watched as the flowers and the butterflies danced. Those frantic dogs finally sat at peace in the shade. I enjoyed my picnic lunch in the wildflowers with my furry friends. Perhaps some things are not meant to be captured, but simply enjoyed.
I may have missed the best of this year’s wildflowers, but I was able to capture something even lovelier. A moment of pause, a quiet reflection, a point of balance. It never ceases to amaze me that in these seemingly insignificant moments of wanting, accepting and letting go, I always seem to find my balance.