Today, I was driving to work and saw bluebonnets for the first time this year. It made me think of the first time I saw bluebonnets last year: right after the coronavirus pandemic started in Texas. My coworkers and I were sent to work from home for a few weeks; we were home until early May. The city and county in which I reside went into a shelter-in-place that was expected to last two weeks; various versions of these orders were in place until the Governor rescinded them last week. Restaurants and retailers closed “until we get it under control;” it took a few weeks until most restaurants and stores reopened with curbside options and some aren’t still fully reopened. It wasn’t exactly the “few” weeks we planned; even now planning more than a few days in advance feel futile. I digress.
Back to bluebonnets. During the work-from-home phase of the pandemic, I went into the office a couple of times. The first day we were expected to be home, the communications team went into the office to begin to build resources, make statements about canceled events and make a plan for how we could work from home; that was St. Patrick’s Day 2020. The next time I drove to the office, a few weeks later, the spring issue of our quarterly magazine was finished at the printer and I met Keith to unload the boxes; I’m pretty sure those boxes are still in the work room where we left them. And on one of those days, I saw bluebonnets by the highway.
Bluebonnets hold some magic for Texans because we’re very proud to learn all kinds of random facts about Texas in school (something I’ve heard isn’t super common in other states). And one of the things we learn is that bluebonnets are our state flower. When we’re in elementary school we ready books about how bluebonnets came to be (and how it’s illegal to pick them; I honestly can’t tell you if that’s true or not, but it’s an ingrained fact in my brain). And every year in the spring, seemingly overnight, they spring up from the ground for a few weeks. Parents take endlessly cute pictures of their kids in the fields of flowers. Dog-parents take adorable pictures of their dog-children. We take pictures of random fields and medians near highways and in wildflower-designated areas of parks and add them to our collection of other random bluebonnet pictures. We share them on social media and all the pictures look unique and the same and we love every one.
Anyway. Last year, when I saw them for the first time, they felt like a beacon of normalcy. They come up every year, without fail, all across the state. Somehow, it made driving on the nearly empty roads and passing sparsely populated parking lots and buildings feel less lonely and foreign and weird.
This year, they felt hopeful. It’s been a long year. We’ve seen deep failings of our leaders. We’ve seen some of the worst in people and their capacity for selfish behavior and misdirected anger. And we’ve seen great capacity for love. We’ve watched communities come together to protect and support their neighbors. We’ve seen medical professionals, educators, frontline workers and more do their best to keep our communities safe, healthy and on track for a smooth recovery.
I’m thankful that we have a reason for hope. That vaccines are working their way around and hopefully soon our world will return to normal. And I’m thankful for bluebonnets for reminding us that the world keeps moving. In some ways, it’s scary to be reminded how small we are. However, today, I was thankful. I was thankful that the world keeps spinning and we keep moving forward. And I was thankful for the reminder this morning.