CLOSE-UP: There must be a few thousand photos just like these
and they never lose their appeal.
Background on the Bluebonnet Trail
Story & Photos by IRA KENNEDY
Every year, many of us who are fortunate enough to live in the Hill Country
begin, usually some time in late January, to speculate about the upcoming "crop"
Opinions abound, and if there was a single flower for each
and every one, the season would have to be year-round with Bluebonnets floating like lotus
blossoms in the Gulf of Mexico to accommodate the overflow.
a great season the word gets out and folks come in droves from all over the world to see
the Texas hills literally covered in Bluebonnets. Like a woman in a blue and white
polkadot dress doing the Texas swing, Bluebonnets make the optic nerves tingle with
In case you haven't heard, the Bluebonnet was a late
comer in the selection process at the state legislature. Back on March 7, 1901, when
the matter was up for a vote the Cotton Bowl or "the white rose of commerce" was
running neck and neck with the bloom of the Prickly Pear advocated by John Nance Garner
who later became vice-president of these here United States.
Garner lost out on his flower of choice but got stuck
with the name "Cactus Jack" for his efforts. Seems a few stalwart ladies
from The National Society for the Colonial Dames of America in The State of Texas stepped
forward lobbying for the Bluebonnet. The problem was, few of the menfolk knew what
flower was under consideration.
Some of the confusion was due to the many aliases of
the Bluebonnet at the time. Some called it "el conejo" or
"the rabbit", others called it Buffalo Clover, and still others said it was the
Wolf Flower. Seems so many of them political types in Austin knew so little about
flowers it took a painting of Bluebonnets by Mode Walker of Austin to show the politicos
exactly which purdy flower they were arguing over. Needless to say the Dames
with their painting won out.
Following their decision another debate raged for years as to
which species of Bluebonnet was the actual state flower. In 1971 the matter was
finally settled when the legislature decided that all six species and "any other
variety of Bluebonnet not heretofore recorded" were all the official state
The whole issue should never have been left up to men
in the first place. Seems most of us just naturally gravitate to things thorny.
Personally, I think Cactus Jack had the right idea.
And while we're at it I reckon the state bird -- the Mockingbird which most folks
can't identify anyway -- should be the Vulture. Annually, they do more highway
cleanup than an entire crew of men do in two years. Besides that they show up
all the time in western movies with the cry of an eagle dubbed in for added drama.
But, as you might imagine, the Mockingbird was
adopted by "the Senate of the State of Texas, the House of Representatives
concurring." Which was a no-brainer considering the choice was backed by the
Texas Federation of Women's Clubs.
I suppose the Mockingbird held some appeal to
the politicians. After all the critter is an impostor able to imitate the call of nearly
every bird in the wild.
By the way, did you know that the Texas State
Vegetable is the onion? There is even a Texas State Shrub. No, Molly Ivens,
it's not George Bush. It's the Crape Myrtle -- which was obviously another
selection by women-folk who must have been caught unawares when the Texas State Dish was
decreed to be Chili instead of something more delicate, like Chicken Fried Steak. If
you want to know about the Texas State Reptile, Insect, Flying Mammal and such you can see
the entire list HERE.
I know none of this has much to do with Bluebonnets,
but while we're on the topic, the politicos have yet to declare a Texas State Vehicle
which in all fairness should be the Pick-up. And the as yet undeclared Texas State
Weapon should be the rifle "of all
existant caliber and any other caliber not heretofore recorded". And since the
politicos designated a state snake, how about a state beverage? Unless the
good 'ol boys act fast and declare the Long Neck ("and all existant, etc.")
the winner, the women folk are likely to lobby for iced tea -- which ain't a bad
Now that I've dispensed with matters political and
historical I'll drift back to the topic at hand.
The Bluebonnet crop this year is likely to make an
indelible impression on everyone, even the old-timers. Although Bluebonnets get top
billing, the variety and beauty of the other flowers such as the Indian Paint Brush,
Indian Blanket, Mexican Hat, Wine Cup and Black Eyed Susan -- just to name a few -- all
together make a stunning mixture. And if you've never seen Texas wildflowers in full
bloom before you're in for an experience.
So load your cameras, pack your cars and head
for the hills.
PAGE 1: THE TRAIL PAGE 2: BACKGROUND
PAGE 3: ROUTES /
PAGE 4: PRECAUTIONS / MAP
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