Orange Hawkweed

When I was a child, there was a clearing in the acreage west of my house where I enjoyed playing. A person standing in the house could not see this clearing; rows of evergreens obstructed the view. But that’s what I liked about it: The area felt private, even though it really wasn’t that far from the house.

In the summer, this clearing was rife with wildflowers, among them Black-Eyed Susans and Orange Hawkweeds. These plants were abundant, here and in other places I’ve lived since then. I picked these wildflowers often, sometimes while humming a Sunday School song, but more often while just plain talking to myself.

The thing is, though, I wasn’t supposed to bring these flowers into the house. I picked countless bouquets, but left them on the ground in the clearing. They weren’t “real flowers,” I was told – they were weeds. One day in particular, I was warned that they wouldn’t last long anyway, and quite frankly, “the orange ones aren’t even pretty.”

I took umbrage with that last bit of blasphemy. In an act of defiance, I collected a handful of Orange Hawkweeds, sneaked them into the house, filled a chintzy plastic cup with water, and displayed the bouquet in my bedroom. I left the room for what could not have been more than an hour or two. When I returned, the bouquet was wilted.

And when I say “wilted,” I don’t mean they looked like they needed water or sunshine. I mean, they looked like death.

The stems hung limp over the cup's sides. The colors, which appeared vibrant outside, were drab. It was the saddest, most pitiful floral arrangement I have seen to date. I never attempted such subterfuge again.

Today, my backyard teems with exotic fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, year round. And if there is some other type of flower I desire, I can easily buy quality, affordable arrangements nearby that will fill a vase without blowing my budget.

This usually suits me. Usually. But not today.

When the sun strokes my head and the only sounds I hear are the birds and my humming, I am reminded that though I am surrounded by the best of what the desert has to offer, there are times I would give just about anything for a messy fistful of Orange Hawkweeds. Wilted or otherwise.

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