Texans take their culture seriously. Our landmarks and historic figures are the stuff of legends.
And then there are the wildflowers.
We adore our wildflowers.
We revere our wildflowers.
Pilgrimages to the Hill Country of Texas are obligatory in the spring and the patches of blues and reds and pinks and yellows that edge the interstate highways lift a traveler's spirit. Every child in the Lone Star State has memories (sometimes not pleasant ones) of being plopped down into a plot of bluebonnets and photographed by enthusiastic parents. The first Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes of the season are greeted like celebrities here.
Tomie dePaola's The Legend of the Bluebonnet and The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush are de rigeur reading in elementary schools across the state and it is all because of Lady Bird Johnson.
Kathi Appelt honored the first lady and reminded us that she changed the way we look at the landscape with her 2005 book, Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers. Joy Fisher Hein's joyful illustrations capture the beauty of the flowers and Lady Bird's gracious and loving spirit. Hein shares the thank you letter she had from Mrs. Johnson about the book on her website. Based on the number of copies I have cataloged at various libraries I know that this book has joined dePaola's in every school library in Texas.
As I reflected on Mrs. Johnson's passing this week I recalled that this past spring was one of the longest seasons for flowers that I could ever remember, and I've lived here a long time. Maybe it was the rainy spring weather or maybe it was just a last glorious burst of color to honor her.
As we drove the entling to camp this weekend I marveled at the thick swath of deep orange and red flowers that edged the freeway and thought what a precious gift Lady Bird Johnson gave us.
Kathi Appelt website
Joy Fisher Hein website
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center