Ten years ago, I was divinely guided to head to Death Valley in the Springtime. Why would anyone want to go to a place called Death Valley? Isn't that the hottest place in the WORLD? I had stumbled across Death Valley, on my way to an oasis hot springs, while the "Super Bloom" was happening. The "Super Bloom" is an explosion of wildflowers in the desert that happens about once every ten years when there is more than the average rainfall.
The "Super Bloom" had made such a strong impression on me, that when I read that the "Super Bloom" was going on, I had our family drop everything, pack up the food we had in our cabinets, throw the sleeping bags in the car, and head south for the weekend.
I am a lover of the desert. Since my first encounter, I have found it to be a place of solitude, reflection, and peace. It has served as a place for me to let go, get raw, and come out anew. The infinite stars are so clear in the desert. This time we encountered on our trip: zebra tailed lizards, a side-winding rattle snake, ravens, monarch butterflies, red-tailed hawks, owls, stink bugs, kangaroo rats, foxes, bats, a scorpion, white-lined sphinx moths, green flies, and morning doves-just to name a few. So much life in the desert!
The flowers were extraordinary! Last time I had recorded seeing 26 different species of wild flowers. This time we saw 32! Desert Golds, Beaver Tail Cactuses, Joshua Trees, Creosote Bushes, Desert Holly, Mesquite, Brown-Eyed Evening Primroses, Mojave Desert Stars, Desert Five Spots, Notch Leaf Phacelia, Globemallows, Purplemats, Indigo Bushes, Pebble Pincushions, Turtlebacks, and Desert Trumpets-just to name a few.
The smells of the flowers were my favorite part of the experience this time. I loved getting on my hands and knees low to the ground, seeing all of the brightly colored stones, feeling the silty soil mixed with sand between my fingers, listening to the small pollinators buzz from flower to flower. Some of the flowers smelled like sweet candy brushed with Desert Sage, others smelled like honey mixed with dusted stones after a rain. My daughter and I went around smelling so many flowers, that we had a yellowy-orange tint embedded on the tip of our noses. There were canyons with bunches of pink flowers growing where the sun shined its light for only a few moments each day, there were dried creeks where purple flowers grew where the water once flowed, and then there were THE fields and fields of bright yellow flowers.
All of these flowers, all of this life we were able to see and experience, were brought to life by 3 1/2 inches of rain. 3 1/2 inches of rain!!!!! A little bit went a long way. A little bit of rain brought so much life, so much color, so many people, to experience the bountiful desert.
I was able to see what a little bit of encouragement (rain) can do for the flowers. Like how a simple, positive comment with our daughters can go a long way. Whether it is a compliment rather that a criticism, or a loving message rather than none at all, or a recognition for trying her best rather than a "should have". A positive acknowledgment can fuel our daughters with confidence and love.
I enjoyed exploring with my daughter how much life really does exist in the desert if we take the time to NOTICE. We took the time to smell the flowers, to bend down and see all of the different colored stamen and pistols. We picked up different colored stones, licked them to see their colors come forth, and talked about where they came from. I was able to observe how the flowers have very delicate flower petals, but are able to handle their harsh desert life because their roots are deep foundations and they have stems that are strong. Just like how we want our daughters to be.
There are times when I notice there is something going on with my daughter and I choose to not say anything. There are other times when I notice something and I do say something. The important thing here is that we are noticing. We are taking the time away from our "busy" life, our phone, our friends, our work deadlines to notice what is happening in our daughters' worlds. We can only be responsive if we are aware, and can address challenges before they escalate into problems. We are noticing the changes and differences, and observing how our daughters are handling themselves as they navigate through their coming of age time. With a little awareness and nourishment towards our daughters, we can witness their own "Super Bloom".
When we are noticing with all of our senses, we are aware of our own needs and how we can be attentive to those. When we are attentive to our needs first, we can be of better service to all around us.
For me, it took a "Super Bloom", a 10 hour drive, a few hikes, and time wondering about the world with my daughter in the desert, to remember it is important to notice the daily nuances and to stop and smell the flowers.
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By honoring the water, we affirm the gift of life that flows through and connects us all.