April 24, 2019

Earlier this year, I decided to put in a concrete pad for a travel trailer and other equipment. It was a huge undertaking that involved digging out the site, installing the forms, and putting in four inches of gravel. The only thing left was to put in the steel. My intention was to have the concrete poured later this spring.

A few weeks ago, I saw the last thing I expected. The whole site, which was prepped and ready to be poured, was covered in bluebonnets. And while it was a beautiful sight to behold, it was the last thing I needed because I had to remove all the organic matter prior to the concrete being poured. I was very unhappy about the bluebonnets until I talked to Jane.

Jane taught a large assortment of English classes at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor. She’s one of those irritatingly smart people. Now that she’s retired, she writes for a literary club. She allowed me to read her latest submission. Now I see bluebonnets in a very different light.

“The Mysterious Bluebonnet

As I drove home yesterday along our rural road, I was galvanized, inspired, uplifted by the array of color splashed profligately along the roadside! The sun had come out after a day of heavy fog and rain, and the Bluebonnets had leaped forth! Mixed with Indian Paintbrushes and a few early Primroses they had provided a feast to the eyes that no artist could exceed. The scene was the stuff of tourist googling and Easter pictures by adoring parents with colorfully dressed children. I could only think that this was a day when Browning’s Pippa would have exclaimed, “God in his heaven; all’s right with the world.”

However, there is more to the bluebonnet than the artists and photographers may perceive. Later in the day I was walking down the hill from our home, picking my way around the clay ditches, made by years of rains that washed the topsoil down from the hilltop to the fertile creek bottom below. There nestled in the ugly clay ravines were profuse clumps of Bluebonnets! I never cease to be amazed that these seemingly picky plants, with which I have had no success in planting, can grow in such an unlikely place. There, away from public view, in a part of our farm that we shy away from when visitors come to hike, was the coveted state flower! I was baffled when first, many years ago, I observed this phenomenon, but my nature-loving, scientist husband clued me in to part of the mystery.

The Bluebonnet is one of a variety of plants known as legumes. They take natural nitrogen from the air and put it into the soil. What these ugly, washed areas of soil lack in order to produce good grass is nitrogen. (That’s the expensive part of the fertilizer we buy for our lawns.) Because it is natural, it is more easily absorbed and nourishes the hungry soil efficiently. But that’s only part of the mystery. How is it that the lovely plat that defies my horticultural efforts is drawn naturally to the areas of soil that need it most? Well, these areas are in the sun because no trees or other shrubs want to grow there. That’s one condition for the cultivation. Beyond that, I just don’t understand it. Every spring I can only affirm with Pippa: God is in his heaven and is working in this world too!”

Job said, “But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.” (Job 12:7-10)

Everything has a purpose and a reason. God made flowers so we would know beauty, music so we would know joy, and Brussels sprouts so we would know gross. God did it all.

Prayer: Dear Gracious Heavenly God, I am truly in awe as I see what you have done in the universe and in my life. You are a good and gracious God. I will always trust in you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

I am still not sure why God made poison ivy but there’s a reason. I probably won’t know why until I get to heaven. I’m good with that.

I pray your day is filled with joy and laughter.
Tom Robbins