Here I am in Colorado, with my son “Soldier’s” family. It’s quite different from my last visit to the state, which was in the fall of 2018 when Clara was a newborn. The sky is blue and the grass green, the trees that were bare and brown back then are leafing out and the conifers have tender needle tips.
One day while Soldier was at work the rest of us walked at Monument Rock, through forests of gambel oaks to a monolith of sandstone. Other people on the path smiled to see all the children bending over one wildflower after another as we tried to find their names in my Seek app. “Which ones have you seen?” they asked. “The bluebells? And the Spring Beauties?”
Yes, we had. And many others: Crossflower, Nuttal’s Larkspur, Fringed Sagebrush, Tall Western Groundsel, Leafy Spurge, and Field Pennycress.
We were charmed to make the acquaintance of a tiny flower that Laddie was first to notice, a soft blue blur low to the ground at the side of the trail. We identified it as Small-flowered Blue-eyed Mary (collinsia). “Pleased to meet you, Mary!” the boys said, and carefully shook delicate stems.
Along the trail we also stopped to peer at small fish in a pond, and I collected sand for my collection at the base of Monument Rock. The sun gets hot here, at the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains, and it felt good to me to be in that dry, slow oven. Seeing Joy and Clara on the sandstone path made me think of that book I love, Along Sandy Trails. One of the boys reminded me that the girl in that book did not wear pigtails.
At home later, we zoomed in on the picture of the Mary flowers to admire their fine lines and clear colors. And we walked around the house to compare the Bittercress there with the Field Pennycress we’d seen on our outing. May appears to be the perfect time for a wildflower lover like me to visit Colorado and join with my grandboys to make new flower friends. And we met a grasshopper, too!