The other day, my hunny and I have to share a car because his is in the shop. Since he goes to work an hour before I do, when I drop him off I find myself both A. Up early and B. Out and About (a rare combination, I tell you)... with nothing to do.
My impulse, out of habit, is to go into work early and wade through my inbox. Luckily I catch myself, and realize that there is actually no pressing reason to start staring into the Electronic Eye this early in the morning. I recall an exercise out of the book The Artists Way by Julia Margaret Cameron-- the book which helped pull me out of my decade-long Stage Fright/ Writer's Block/ General Jammed-Up-Inside-ness slump-- an appeal to look at your day a new way, to walk home on a different street, to eat something new for lunch, to stop and actually SMELL those flowers. Something, anything, to break the spell of same-ness and routine that can become a self-made prison.
Everyday I take a shortcut to work on a stretch of windy, wild road beside Wolf Creek, and a million times I pass the tempting turnouts and have no time to stop. Why not today?
Now I could never resist a path or a road that goes winding back mysteriously into the underbrush. I even have some scars from tangling with barbed wire fences, as the result of my boundless curiosity... but don't let me set the Example for you, or you'll have a pretty weird life! Anyhow, today there is no fence and no sign saying No Trespassing, though I have the vague feeling that my behavior isn't exactly encouraged. I also know that no one zooming to work on this road gives a damn or will even notice.
Just feet from the road is a jungle of Blackberry Vine, Sweet Pea, Hawthorne, Mugwort, Willow, Wild Grape, Chicory, and assorted Cheery Wildflowers. By the rushing creek it is a little cooler, the underbrush too thick to penetrate; a glorious secret kingdom. A hummingbird sings (okay, squeaks, but I love the sound) in the treetop above.
Chicory is one of my favorite wild flowers. She is only open early, and each flower only lasts for just one day-- so although I catch her out of the corner of my eye on my way to work, when my day is done her flower is already spent. It is so nice to spend time with her in her prime, in the morning with it's clean light and succulent air.
Chicory appears in "New Orleans Coffee", incidentally-- when times were lean, her roasted root was combined half and half with the more pricey coffeebeans. The taste is divine, and it stuck. Chicory is also good for stimulating the appetite, and supposedly as a treatment for gallstones, though I have no experience with this. Her flower essence is used to mitigate the need to selfishly possess someone or something.
Here she is with Star Thistle- a much-maligned plant, but beautiful in her way. These days, with the ever-shrinking open space in California and the ailing bee population, you don't see huge, inexpensive jars of Starthistle honey that you used to. To bad, cause it is so good on toast!
There is nothing more satisfying to me then a huge bouquet of wildflowers. My half an hour in the morning got to stay with me all day.
I hope this post inspires you to look at today in a new way. Sometimes the sweetest diversions are merely a few feet from our well-traveled road... almost like an alternate, parallel universe.