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.