Mom and I started out before dawn on this little jaunt. After tracking down largish cups of coffee, we headed north from Fredericksburg to the little farm road that takes you to the WCL. The fog and overall cloudy cast didn’t feel gloomy at all. Instead, it made the wee little blue flowers that much more vibrant and noticeable. It also made everything very, very quiet. Add to the fact that we were, perhaps, the only two peeps out at that time of the morning, and you have a recipe for a darn near spiritual experience.
We crossed the first of many cattle guards (the WCL takes visitors through a series of privately-owned ranches), and were greeted by the first tiny bluebonnets of the day.
We moved on and came to a spot that, in clearer weather, affords visitors with a scenic view. I couldn’t really see for the fog, but there was still plenty to see. I was busy setting up this shot (in humble, holy reverence) when I heard a rustling in the bushes behind me…and what I thought MUST be very distinct grunting…
Figuring it to be a photographer-goring, deadly Texas boar hawg (which always makes me think of Old Yeller and ‘hydrophobee’), I made for the safety of our vehicle.
As we continued, the bluebonnets increased in number significantly. We had heard the best times to go for maximum bluebonnet viewing are mid-April through mid-May, and we weren’t disappointed. We encountered more and more visitors to the WCL as the morning wore on and saw many beautiful wildflowers…
…as well as this nifty old tractor surrounded by white poppies…
And finally, did you know there were maroon ‘blue’bonnetts?!?! Neither did I! Upon further research, I found the truth of the origin of the ‘Texas Maroon’ bluebonnet in this tale written by Jeff Abt of TexasSuperstar.com (as published in the Daily Sentinel of Nacogdoches, TX):
“This brings us to the sordid tale of the Texas Maroon bluebonnet. Imagine a field of bluebonnets and two inquisitive horticulturists, Greg Grant and Dr. Jerry Parsons. Jerry had been working for years with bluebonnets, trying to isolate and select out strains of red, white, and blue flowers, in an effort to create the Texas flag out of bluebonnets. Dr. Parsons tells me they were already 1/3 of the way to success with the bluebonnet when they began. White was also easy to come by, for the wildflowers naturally come in shades of blue, white, and pink. They next started working on the color red. As a result, they had selected out and planted a field of pink bluebonnets with the hopes of finding in this field a few red ones. Instead, they noticed some pink bluebonnets with a blue tinge to them in the field. These pink bluebonnets with the blue tinge began to use their wiles upon the unsuspecting Greg and Jerry. The plants had as their goal in life to reproduce themselves. The pink flowers of the field outnumbered the blue-tinged pink ones drastically. The ones with the blue tinge were rare, but they had a plan. They would lure human beings into perpetuating, preserving, and peddling their pink and blue-tinged DNA. The flowers had been perfecting their performance for who knows how many years; and, with the coming of these humans, it was time to take their show on the road. These little bluebonnets were on the verge of a great leap forward.
Greg Grant, being an Aggie, thought to himself, “These pink bluebonnets with the blue tinge in them look a bit like the color maroon. Let’s select out, not for the color red, but for the color maroon. Who cares about the Texas flag. It’s Aggies that matter.”
I won’t go into too much depth, but Greg and Jerry began gathering up the seed from these bluebonnets. After a few generations of selecting out bluebonnets with increasing red or maroon color, they eventually came up with a deep maroon bluebonnet. At this point we must take note of the amazing strategies and wiles of these little pink bluebonnets. They are outnumbered in the bluebonnet world; hardly anyone notices them. But now they have human kind taking part in the spreading of their kin around the earth. Lupinus texensis ‘Texas Maroon’ is now a reality. Not only are humans spreading them around the earth but a very unique species of human, Aggies.”