While growing up in Schenectady, New York, I experienced dramatic changes as the seasons moved from winter to spring. Winter was a time when the landscape was blanketed in white frigid snow leaving dormant almost everything underneath. Every year the snow would melt and give way to budding trees, and the crocuses would break through the still-frozen ground like Lazarus leaping from the tomb. Yet, as a child, I remember believing every spring was a miracle.
The first color that broke the winter cycle was yellow. Before there was even a hint of leaves on what looked like dead branches in our back yard, the forsythia began blossoming. That memory still moves me to seek out the first hints of local spring yellows. I have found it in the oxalis, mustard, scotch broom and wildflowers, including my favorite version of the wild poppy, the Coastal Poppy, whose petals are both orange and yellow.
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, the move from winter to spring is a little more subtle. Especially if our winter rains, like this year, are quite plentiful, the hills rendered brown by the summer begin to amass greens and yellows already in January. In our area, a California poppy or two can be found throughout the year, but, when spring comes, the colorful signs of rebirth and regeneration are explosive.
The California Poppy, of course, is the floral symbol of our state, and it even has its own song. Written by Curtis Clark and Bob Fox circa 1940, it goes like this: “Poppies, Golden Poppies, gleaming in the sun, closing up at evening when the day is done. Pride of California, flower of our state. Growing from the mountains to the Golden Gate.”
Every day, as the media reports on the leadership style and choices of our president, we are reminded that we are in a time of regression and movement away from caring economics, environmentally friendly policies, and partnership paradigms. Yet spring keeps erupting with promises of beauty and life, almost insisting that we take occasional mini-retreats from our acts of resistance to get out into the natural world to replenish and renew our soul, heart and focus.
As I look for fresh angles from which to capture the beauty and essence of the poppy, I am inspired to search for new tools for making the personal shift from domination to partnership and its implications for the greater society and the common good. One tool that blessed me this year was the online course I took from Riane Eisler and the Center for Partnership Studies. The course helped me reconnect with the truth that all life is best lived when we express love, compassion, and understanding through everything we do. When we live out that truth, every spring is a miracle – in the world of nature and in our own inner being.!
If you are not familiar with the Center for Partnership Studies I suggest you look at its website: http://centerforpartnership.org/
You can view additional Poppy images in my Poppy Portfolio