As I roam the wildflower fields in the spring, I speculate that humans have an actual biochemical response to this phenomenon. I fancy that these beautiful flowers stimulate powerful bursts of serotonin, chemicals surging through the blood that allow the ignoring of painfully strong winds or baking heat or scratchy seed-laden socks, as we search and wander, continually amazed. The places that still sing this song of annual wildflowers are fewer all the time. They teach us what we need to know, so that wandering through wildflowers might happen at home too.
The spring of 2010 was a particularly inspiring wildflower season, the last great wildflower season California has experienced. In a favorite central California flower field, where the wind howled, I filmed the wind in the wildflowers. Click here to view the video. It was amazing how frequently the mix changed, to different proportions of species or different species altogether. The soil in this field was lean and sandy, even white in some places. Some "dry creeks" of pure sand ribboned through the field, and they too carried their full freight of wildflowers,particularly datura. Every year, as well, the mix of species changes, and the reasons for this variation are both obvious and obscure, an under-investigated arena. Speculating while wandering is also an important part of the wildflower experience.
I noticed that I was talking to myself about the changes in soil types as I walked, unconsciously categorizing as "good" and "less good," when actually, the soil was amazingly varied in this field, and judgment is not appropriate. "Lean" rather than "poor" is more accurate terminology,more "EC" (ecologically correct), and all degrees of sandiness, rockiness, and clay presented their own opportunities for wildflowers.