They make our heart sing

It’s just some funky old photo to most of y’all.

Looking closer, you might guess, correctly, that it was taken on a Sunday. For the record, it was an Easter Sunday. Also for the record, I believe it may be the only (and last) photo ever taken of me carrying a purse.

But if you’re from Texas, you see more. Almost certainly, in at least one of the springtimes of your childhood, you too were situated, possibly against your will or better judgement, in a field ofLupinus texensis so your parents, aunts, uncles, and/or Meemaws could snap your picture.

Transcending boundaries of class, gender, race, ethnicity, geography, and photographic abilities, tens of thousands of bluebonnet pictures have been taken of tens of thousands of children. As well as not a few adults, dogs, new pickups, and other objects of affection. That’s just how we do down here.


But here’s the deal: more than the bluebonnets (which, by the way, were more likelyLupinus subcarnosus, the sand-loving cousins oftexensis), more than the Easter dresses, more than any actual reason that led to the picture being taken, it’s the incidentals that give it power.

That little goober in the red didn’t know this location but the kid she would be and that I used to be knew every inch of it by heart. It wasn’t my backyard or an actual playground but it might as well as been. “Going down to the bay” was how most of my wandering kid adventures started out. The best ones, anyway.

I look at this and I’m standing on the very spot where it was taken, I know the stray cats living under those exact salt cedars covered with wild mustang vines. Even over the pushy prevailing wind from the southeast, I can hear the noise from the mobs of courting Least Terns that have turned the little spit of an island in the background into their rookery. The wind, the salt in the air, grassburs and sand in my socks, the oyster shell road we’re standing next to, the sense memory of all of it comes in waves. Not imagined or blurred nostalgia, but involuntary and absolute experience. Time travel, or as close as I’ve gotten to it.

Everybody has at least one old Polaroid or some other momento like that, don’t they?

Tell us about yours.

7 thoughts on “They make our heart sing

  1. Wow. Great photo, great memories.
    Springtime … bluebonnets out where you are yet?
    It’s a wee bit early for ’em here but the fruit trees are in full bloom.

  2. BlackSheepOne, I’ve heard some people have seen bluebonnets already but I haven’t seen any wildflowers yet.
    The mountain laurels are blooming though. Purple koolaid smell everywhere.

  3. Can’t say that I do have any such photo, or any such memories. We didn’t do anything that our neighbors were doing. And we never took pictures of what we did do. We didn’t always go anywhere for any season and we didn’t belong to any religious group that had rituals we always observed. Call me a rootless cosmopolitan, but its true.

  4. Here in Birmingham AL, the backdrop of bluebonnets was replaced by a giant iron sculpture of Vulcan, god of the forge, which stands atop Red Mountain in an old WPA park and has provided a photo op for area residents since the late Thirties.
    If I had my photo to show you, it would show me in a cowboy hat, toting a Fanner 50, about forty yards from the statue pedestal, and the Kodacolor would have faded just about as much as yours…

  5. No old photos to bring that sense of time travel. But occasionally I’ll pull up google maps and look at the street view of places I used to roam as a kid (very many years ago)
    Some I can barely recognize. Others I’m astounded at how little they’ve changed.
    Funny how stuff like that can bring back a rush of memories you hadn’t even thought about in decades…

  6. Smell does it for me. I lived in the Sonoma Valley when I was 5-8 years old, then moved east. Came back to the valley at 23, driving south on 101. September, when the grass is all baked blonde and the hillsides curve like a woman’s body beneath a tan sheet. Dark green oaks and bay laurels trace the creeks across the land. And the smells of all that, hot grass, adobe dust, bay. They triggered such a rush of memories I had to pull over and wipe my eyes.

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