Our lifestyle, as we continue to tour the country, has provided an abundance of opportunities to enjoy wildflowers every day. I would venture to say I have more photos saved of wildflowers than any other single subject, and the colors draw from a palate of millions. There are a couple of themes that stick with me as we come across them.
One sentiment I often feel is that at least some of these floral organisms will grow in any environment we run across, from arid desert heat to ice-covered rock face, dark forest bed, wet marshland, rainforest, sandy beach or dry riverbed. Nature seems to adapt to any situation. In high-elevation settings you'll see miniature alpine blossoms. On a rocky cliff side you'll often see multi-colored lichen overtaken by moss, then vines with soft pastel flowers. Even most desert cactus bloom annually.
Another is the sheer variety of color, size, shape and brilliance of wildflowers, depending on what is needed for them to be successful where they are. Most require pollination by bees, moths, butterflies, hummingbirds or other nectar feeders, and it's not difficult to see that the variety aids in their survival and helps spread their species. Even the wind can determine the type of wildflowers you will find, with those stems and flowers that can bend and resist destruction being more prevalent in gusty regions.
Interestingly, some flowers can be found across the U.S., while others are specific to one locale. It can be comforting to see wild sunflowers, coneflowers or musk mallows everywhere you drive, a sort of continuity that can sooth the awkward exploration of a new location. On the other hand, it can be exciting to see Texas bluebonnets. California poppies, Colorado columbines or the yellow jessamines of the Carolinas.
We did have some nice comments offered by friends, fans and followers. Here are a few of those (although some have been edited or paraphrased):
Kay and Russ W.- I love the desert wild flowers.
Becca R.- Wild flowers blooming in the desert mean life, beauty and God’s handiwork in an otherwise drab and desolate environment.
Hank & Shirleen- When I see flowers, especially small ones that many do not see, I think about our wonderful forgiving God, who put them there for us to see and enjoy. I am with you, Jack, many times they are my favorite subject to photograph. They always lift me up. It’s like stop and smell or just enjoy the beauty of the flowers!
BLSMSS- Traveling throughout the country I have seen some brilliant colors -- the bluebonnets here in Texas, the beautiful yellow, orange and red flowers on cactus, the daffodils and Lupines on the sides of the roads home, and tulips for beginning of spring. All these flowers remind me of my mom and the hundreds of flowers and plants we planted together, the many years before she passed. I would stop on the side of the road with my kids so they could pick a bunch of wildflowers for their grandma. Those memories are why I love wildflowers, it’s like she’s out planting them from Heaven.
Nadyne H.- Wildflowers are my favorite - over regular-planted flowers. I love wild daisies, wild poppies and especially the miniature flowers that grow up at 14,000 feet in the Colorado mountains! These are perfectly formed, exquisitely detailed and yet as tiny as my pinkie finger nail!
Packratphyls- I had an Aunt that used to have people stop and take pictures because her flowers all around her home were so beautiful. She planted them so all year she had colors for all four seasons.
Elsiesmom- The thing I love most about wildflowers is they are food for the bees. I have been so concerned about the bees since forever. I always put a little water station out for them, a terra cotta tray with marbles (so they don’t drown) and water. The only thing I am missing with my RV lifestyle is gardening. Seeing wildflowers anywhere gives me solace knowing the bees have food, too, even if I didn’t grow it.
Royce- Wild flowers make me happiest when I can show them to a woman and see the smile on her face.
Tami and Barry “Cruising in Our Cabin”- Wildflowers make me happy because they are just there, no need to tend them, water them, groom them... they are just there for my enjoyment for my senses to enjoy -- sight, smell, even taste (honey suckles). When I pause and notice a beautiful wildflower I want to capture it in a photo but it never does it justice. It was meant for my eyes only and I appreciate the creator of them.
See Spot Run RV- I love the different colors and styles of the flower. I have noticed over time that you get different colors at different times in some areas. They are so beautiful!
I'll finish up by sharing a quote from a famous American author, John Steinbeck: "Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass."
Please feel free to add your own comments and memories below!
"In a year that has been so improbable... the impossible has happened!"
That was Vin Scully announcing Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, immediately following a famous bottom-of-the-ninth home run by a hobbling Kirk Gibson, batting against closer-extraordinaire Dennis Eckersley. The walk-off homer, as they now call them, won the game for the Los Angeles Dodgers and gave them the momentum needed to beat the Oakland A's for their last World Series title. I was 32 in October that year and remember that home run like it was yesterday. I was camping with my brother in a remote stretch of the Columbia River in Washington State and felt very fortunate to be able to receive the broadcast where we were. We were about 20 miles from the nearest town, but they may have heard us whoop and holler that night.
I grew up in the L.A. area and was a huge Dodger fan, but I would not have been as big a fan if I hadn't spent a lot of time in the playground playing baseball. There are several reasons why I think baseball is better for kids than other sports, but I had very good hand-eye coordination, could easily run, catch and hit, but most importantly, it was one of the few sports in which my diminutive height as a kid didn't affect my skill and success. I did have asthma, so organized ball was out, but that didn't keep me from helping my best friend train in high school, and it didn't keep me from enjoying baseball on the school grounds. And I was pretty good.
Like golf, bowling, tennis, wrestling, volleyball, football, soccer and swimming, people who have played the sport are much more likely to watch them when they can't play. Baseball is also considered "America's National Pastime," which is a nod to its even wider appeal, similar to soccer and football, but it was the first truly national sport in the U.S.
Baseball is different from most other sports in that it doesn't have a time limit. A game can theoretically go on forever. When the pitcher has the baseball and there are runners on base or a tied score, intensity rises the longer he holds the ball. I remember many times when the pitcher just didn't want to throw the ball, afraid of the outcome. Occasionally the umpire would even have to step out to tell the pitcher to continue the game. Eventually, the pitcher does throw it, with or without the umpire's warning, once convinced that he must.
Baseball mimics life in a way. It runs on a serial timeline in which the life of the game literally follows the the ball. But it is more fair than real life in that both teams will always have the same number of opportunities for offense. A home run in the top of the 13th inning, for instance, doesn't automatically win the game, since the other team gets to have its at-bats in the bottom of the inning. If they tie the game, on to the 14th inning they go.
There have been so many exciting moments in this sport that's been played since the middle of the 19th century that you can write an encyclopedia-sized collection of them. (For younger readers, an encyclopedia used to be a set of dozens of books containing articles, history and a collection of all shared knowledge at the time of its printing.) Society's problems have been baseball's problems, too, and its social remedies have not always kept pace. Now it's a worldwide sport, with hundreds of foreign-born professional players in the major and minor leagues. But none of that would matter as much if I had never played it myself.
We did have several excellent memories and comments shared by friends and followers. Here are many of those (although some have been edited or paraphrased):
Sharon M.- I was never all that interested in baseball when I was young, but my father was an avid fan. He played baseball in high school, had a college scholarship because of his playing and went to a small farm team. He injured his shoulder, so never played professionally, but the coverage of the World Series games was the only thing that would keep him out of the hay fields in the summers. I would give anything to listen to his comments again while he listened to those games.
Robert M.- I love to visit at games, best sport for that. When my dad was alive we went every Monday that had a game playing. He loved to sit behind home plate and call every pitch. I miss my baseball buddy.
Nadyne H.- I have several great baseball memories beginning with watching 4 brothers all play exceptionally great! Then the incredible fun we had in high school going to see the Tucson Toros at Hi Corbett at night. Next I got to watch my two little guys play their way from T-ball through regular play! Now those great baseball game memories are centered on the major league games Jack has taken me to see. Baseball has played a big part in my life!
Jeff P.- In the 90s and my kids were young I would take them to see the Royals a couple of times a month. We would sit in Right Field General Admission. We'd have hot dogs and drinks and with all that plus parking it was around $50. It was the best entertainment value in town. I miss right field G.A. seats.
Paul H.- My big brother used to take me out of school and take me to mid-week "Businessman Special" games at Dodger Stadium... I came to truly love baseball, and as a young math nerd, I loved all of the statistics that the game provided that I got to pour over every single day. I got to watch Garvey, Lopes, Russel and Cey play nine seasons together, while also being the first team to have four players hit 30 home runs. They also had a long line of GREAT pitchers, too. I was too young to remember Koufax or Drysdale, but I got to see Don Sutton, Fernando Valenzuela, Bob Welch, Rick Sutcliffe, Dave Stewart, and many more... The Dodger Teams of the 70's and 80's were very special.
Royce- If I watched spectator sports, it would be Baseball. I have never been a fan of watching something I cannot be activity engaged in. Almost always something else better, to build, do, or see. I do sorta, watch golf on TV because it is a great way to take a nap. Over come by sleep before they get to the first pin. Baseball, to me, says American, in big bold letters and I can enjoy the pace of the game. So, I could watch Baseball.
Papa Wayne and MJS- I have loved baseball for years! Growing up in Richmond, VA, we saw the Yankees just about every Saturday - Mantle, Maris, Berra, Whitey.... it was great. Later, I had the option of coaching baseball or track. I chose baseball and coached in high school for 9 years. Now, my grandson is a pitcher at Georgia Southern University and we enjoy going to Statesboro for the home games. Recently, GSU beat number 2 ranked UGA in all three games of the series. My grandson closed in the first win and got a save in the second win!
BLSMSS- I got into baseball and softball due to my mom. She used to play with us when we had half the town at our house growing up, memories I still have of her hitting left-handed but catching with her right. Continuing my love for the game I get to see my kids playing for town teams, to taking a lady I cared for to the Syracuse Chiefs game and watched her get excited. To this day I watch the Yankees and the little league Championship games. All those memories, even with some of the disgrace from the pros, I still love the game. Those memories make me happy.
Habadabeer- I have great memories of my Dad taking me 2 hours north of where we lived in northern New York to watch our “home team” Montreal Expos play in Jarry Park. My childhood sports idol was “Le Grande Orange,” Rusty Staub. One of my clearest memories is the stadium announcer enunciating each syllable when John “Baaacaabelllaaa!” came up to bat! Back before digital TV, we used to be able to pick up snowy stations out of Quebec, broadcast in French of course. So my Dad would tune in to the same game on the radio, and watch it on TV with the volume off. The radio commentary was actually better because it had to be more descriptive. The best part, however, was the commercial breaks. They were synchronized to start and end at the same time, so you’d be watching a shaving commercial and listening to one for beer. Very entertaining! The team eventually moved to the Olympic Stadium, where, as my Dad tells it, the seats were so small and so tightly packed, “You could only rest one cheek at a time!” The Expos were never a powerhouse (although they came close to winning the pennant in ‘81, and had the best record of any team before the baseball strike ended their post season aspirations in ‘94), but they got a lot of great up and coming players. For a while, the AAA team in Syracuse where we live was their farm team, so I got a little nostalgic for the Expos grasping at that straw of connection. Speaking of AAA baseball though, it’s been some of the best playing I’ve seen! Maybe it’s because the players are hungrier, maybe the coaches are willing to take more chances. Whatever the reason, watching the Syracuse Chiefs/Skychiefs/Mets, I’ve seen a triple play, an in the park home run, and a suicide squeeze to win the game in the bottom of the ninth! Oh, plus hot dogs and beer!
Murphmurphys- Well I am a Massachusetts native and of course a die-hard Red Sox fan. We went through many years of frustration with some of the best teams in baseball but wondered if we would ever get there. Unfortunately my Dad never got to see them do it, but I finally did in 2004 and a few more times since, and its a great feeling
Happy Tails 2 U- Pittsburgh Pirates had #9 Bill Mazeroski, #21 Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell. Need I say more?
Steve & Marci- My very first memories of my dad are of him sitting in a lawn chair, shirt off, cigarette in hand, listening to the Minnesota Twins on a transistor radio. I think he preferred listening to them on the radio over television all his life.
Eric and Kathy- I do enjoy going to a local minor league game occasionally. It's much better live with a hot dog and a beer, and at a reasonable price, probably the way baseball was a hundred years ago.
My final quote is from Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the U.S.: "Next to religion, baseball has had a greater impact on our American way of life than any other American institution."
Please feel free to add your own comments and memories below!
I don't think our sense of smell gets enough kudos. Sure, the sweet scent of a flower or of a fabulous meal can enhance an experience and the stink of a big fish can be the result of a successful outing or vacation. Terrible smells, such as skunk or rotten eggs, serve their purpose as well, helping identify potential danger or alarming situation. But there's more going on.
It turns out that the parts of the brain that handle smell, emotion and memories are closely intertwined. This makes smell the most directly connected of our five senses to specific memories. With emotions attached, they are very often happy or pleasing events that are quickly conjured up with a particular scent.
My own experiences bear this out. When I smell a vinyl record, I am immediately transported to 1969 and listening to a brand new 45 I had just purchased with my allowance, And When I Die by Blood, Sweat and Tears. I was sleeping over at my friend's house, his driveway, really, as we were staying in his dad's pickup camper.
The smell of processed film, the media we used in cameras before digital photography always takes me back to my grandmother's house when I was ten years old. She had just given me her Brownie camera, my first, and helped me load the film. Similarly, the smell of burning wood brings memories of the first time I took my kids tent camping over a long weekend up in Washington State. Happy memories indeed.
The smells of love are probably the most pleasing, with the scents of sweat, perfume, wine, or shared food bringing happy memories immediately to mind.
Here are some of the great comments I received regarding this topic (I've edited or paraphrased some):
BLSMSS- Actually mine is in the air. I love the smell of freshly cut grass, a day in September when it’s just a little crisp and you know fall is here, wood burning, you know it’s chilly or someone is having a campfire and the smell of pine trees. All this brings back many memories of my kids growing up and with good friends
Outofsightadventures- The smell of “beets” after it rains... I don’t know why it smells like beets to me, but it does and makes me happy nonetheless. Also the smell of a clean baby.... yummy!
Charles- The smell of rain on a hot summer day and fresh cut grass.
Lindsay (The Picturesque One)- Bacon frying. Need I say more?
Rick & Christine B.- I love the smells of a baby. That makes me feel that all is right with the world. The smell of fresh cut grass, or hay, or freshly turned earth makes me smile. Those are smells of my childhood. Spring flowers or the crisp morning air with a cup of coffee and a campfire -- I am grateful for all I have seen and experienced. May you all continue to be blessed with all the joy this world has to offer.
Jacki H.- We have a rhododendron in our front yard that has flowers with the most amazing scent and just walking outside in the morning, you can smell the sweet fragrance! It's even more impressive because most rhodie flowers don't have any scent, but this one with pale pink, almost white, flowers does and I look forward to it every Spring!
Nadyne H.- A smell that makes me happy every time is the smell of fine Mexican food cooking! Tacos, salsa, green chili.... all of it! Just typing this makes me remember the smells!
Andrea A.- The smell of lilac blooms tells me spring is here, and that's always so uplifting.
Patty B.- Oh, yes! The smell of orange blossom makes me very happy and an essential oil blend I use called Whisper. My favorites!
Matt D.- The Daphne blooming, planted around my office is always nice.
Habadabeer- As I attribute to my dog: “so many smells, so little time!” Where to start? How ‘bout campfire smoke? Now add a coffee pot on the grill, just finishing percolating. Pretty soon there’s sure to be bacon frying. That’s enough to motivate even the most timid camper to roll out of a sleeping bag and carpe diem! We’re currently traveling with my Dad who brought his bread maker along. Any time we have shore power, we have fresh homemade bread. The smell as it finishes baking is pure heaven! Another favorite for some reason is the smell of crayons. When I get a whiff, it’s just like a flashback scene in a movie. I’m 5 or 6 years years old, playing under the back porch in the height of summer, coloring with a broken red crayola. The detail is crystal clear, but without context. I have no idea what happens before, or what comes after this vignette.
Roger K.- Believe it or not the smell of cow manure makes me smile. There was a time when I had a small hobby farm and raised Black Angus. It was a very happy few years.
Becca R.- My happy smells are cookies or bread baking in the oven, fresh Spring blossoming flowers, a clean freshly bathed and powdered baby, and my Uncle’s cherry pipe smoke lightly mixing with the air around him...
I'll end this essay with a quote from the consummate American author, Helen Keller: "Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived."
Please feel free to add your own comments and memories below!
My first ever experience in a movie theater occurred when I was about ten years old. One of my friends had a birthday party one Saturday at an indoor theater playing Help! with the Beatles. A few years later, my best friend's parents took us to see Clint Eastwood's Play Misty For Me in a drive-in, the first time I had seen a movie in that venue. Both impacted me greatly, and I have cherished those memories for years.
As a teenager I saw many B movies in the local indoor joint, the Star Theater, and we would waste the whole day seeing both movies (they used to show double-features) twice, all for the same ticket price, which I think was three bucks. 50's-era horror and science fiction flicks could be seen for a mere fifty cents all day on Sundays. I saw Them!, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Bela Legosi's Dracula, The Blob, several episodes of Dark Shadows, and many other classics in that old theater made out of a World War II barracks.
A couple of premiers stand out in my mind. I saw the original Star Wars in a drive-in on its 1977 opening day, and I waited in line for three hours to see Independence Day (the Will Smith alien movie) on its July 4th, 1996, opening day. That was long-awaited, since they began promoting it the Thanksgiving before.
There is something special about sharing a movie experience with a larger group of people. Kids at theaters weren't breaking windows or vandalizing cars, and many life lessons could be learned at the movies. The popcorn was always hot and buttery, though expensive, and the big screen was just that -- BIG. The best part, though, was the simultaneous reactions of a crowd watching a movie together. I remember sharing non-stop laughs in What's Up Doc? and Airplane!, and the entire audience stood up in a unified gasp during Harold and Maude when Harold's awesome Jaguar/Hearse drove off a cliff. The buildup and fear of The Exorcist would have been so much less if it wasn't shared and anticipated by a full theater of horror fans.
Large screen TV's and sound systems make it more convenient to watch a movie is full surround sound that shakes the living room and there is something to be said for the pause button when you have to run to the bathroom, but what is lost is so much more.
I received several great comments about theaters and here are some of them (I've edited or paraphrased some):
Steven B.- Nothing like going to see the newest Star Wars on the big screen with family. Couldn’t agree more
Theresa W.- Watching on the big screen brings a whole new effect. I still have never adapted to watching shows or movies on a computer or on my phone. Big screen is best.
Peggy H.- Going to the theater to see movies makes it an event rather than mere entertainment. The anticipation of a new release, the smell of popcorn (though I rarely have it), the comfy seats and undivided attention for the time my husband and I are there all make going to the movies so much better than watching from home on a small screen.
Oh! Not to forget the big screen. Epic movies like The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, Troy and Star Wars must be seen on screens 30 feet tall and 90 feet wide! I miss the days of drive-in theaters. For my family members, you should know that the Edgewood Drive-in Theater here back home is still in operation! Those are the memories I hold most dear! All seven kids in PJs and mom piled into the station wagon parked backward so we can watch from the open tailgate, blankets and pillows, special snacks and sodas bought just for this occasion, watching the latest Disney movie. During intermission, we'd run to the sandbox and swings for a bit, then fall asleep watching the second feature, tummies full and wholly entertained. It makes me happy just reminiscing about it!
Jeanne W.- I loved movies back then especially the epic ones and the black and white ones that were comedy or westerns.
Richard L.- Seeing a movie in a theater is an experience. Whereas watching it at home is just like watching TV.
Kathy S.- Nothing beats the big screen for visually stunning effects movies. IMAX is the best!
Jane G.- We go to the movies about once a week. I love it. My husband loves popcorn. We look forward to movies coming out.
Nadyne H.- My all time favorite theater to go to is the Old Town Warren Theater in Jack's picture. I have never been in one I liked as much before or since! So cozy and comfortable, like I was sitting in my living room... but with food and drinks served to me!!!
BLSMSS- If it’s a movie that has lots of sound effects then we will try and see it at a theater. You have to go to theater for the popcorn, okay, my husband does. You know, we never went to the movies until I went with a brother at 16. Movie day with my husband is like going on a date.
Ray and Lynn- We like to go to the movies at the theater... just our thing... when we go now, the theater is never full. Kind of sad, but I get it.
Eric and Kathy- We love going to the theater, especially for those "big screen" movies.
Dan & Jo- We will go usually if movie theater is an older style, retro, unique etc, or if the movie is actually seems to be of some value.
PokeysRVadventures- I love the huge IMAX screens where many show beneath the seas, space, etc., sort of documentaries and the incredible sound.
Tink & Chuck- Last night we transformed the Elks Lodge into a personal theater. It wasn't the full surround sound, special seating, and fully darkened theater experience as most would expect, but in all other aspects it felt the same. We gathered together like friends meeting at someone's home, setting up a buffet of candy and pizza (which became the lobby), and preparing the projector for the screening. When everything was set to go, all of the outer doors were closed to shut out the light and sound, and we all took our seats with our movie food in hand. It took a while to settle down (much like in a real theater), but once we did, you could feel the oneness in the room. There were not 16 gasps in the room or 16 laughs, there was one in unison. As the tension would build in portions everyone all at once would speak out, "Oh no!" It helped that we all had the RVing bond that brought us together and that was the main comedic topic in the movie, but watching the movie with the group like that enhanced it's enjoyment when compared to when Chuck and I had watched it by ourselves at home. We still have a drive-in theater in our town and it is a popular family activity spring-through-fall in Texas. There have been a few winter premiers, such as Star Wars, that have been bitter cold and have still sold out. We as parents are wanting to share a piece of our childhood with our kids, and are enjoying creating a family tradition.
Habadabeer- Many many years ago, my wife and I found a "dollar" movie theater showing second runs of movies just a few months old. They had taken out two of every three rows of seats and replaced them with stools and high top tables for two. You could order burgers, pizza, and beer until the previews ended and get some ‘stantial eating in while enjoying the show. I thought at the time it was a million dollar idea. Now, Movie Tavern is as close as it gets. They’ve got nicer recliner seating and first run movies, but at a premium.
C Farmer- Believe it or not, we still have a drive in movie theater here. Every time we go it's packed. Parents and kids in the back of trucks eating popcorn and drinking (sodas, of course).
Dan & Jo- We love drive-in theaters -- we have stopped and stayed over a night or two whenever we've seen them. We don't want them to go away so we patronize them as often as we can.
Ray and Lynn- I miss drive-in movies... what fond memories we have when our children were small. We would get extra large pizzas, snacks and beverages, of course, back in and sit in the back of the truck or SUV. We would bring chairs, blankets, friends, coolers. I know our kids have great memories of this fun, social experience.
Ias- We enjoy going to the late night show and ordering the big size of popcorn and soda pop (maybe that’s the reason we stop going, LOL). If there’s a new movie we think we’ll enjoy, mostly action, of course we’ll go.
TheRVQueen- I like the old historic theaters, but for live performances, not movies, and to appreciate the architecture.
TxDorsey & Kyle- We frequently enjoy going to the movies in a theater. We watch a lot of films from Redbox, but at least once a month we usually opt to go to a theater and watch a movie. Sometimes it's more frequent, depending on what is coming out that time of year.
I'll finish off my blog post with a quote from film maker Steven Spielberg: "I love to go to a regular movie theater, especially when the movie is a big crowd-pleaser. It's much better watching a movie with 500 people making noise than with just a dozen."
Please feel free to add your own comments and memories below!
Jack Huber is a writer, blogger, poet and photographer. Like many, he is concerned about the psyche of our planet's inhabitants and wants to try to improve his little corner of it.