We must have had perfect weather conditions (not too cold a winter, plenty of rain in spring) in advance of this wildflower season because the colours are just Glorious now. I have never before seen such a variety; even the local parks are sprinkled with flowers they’d don’t usually sport and yesterday, I had to concentrate hard to keep my eye on the road as I drove up Interstate 10, headed toward Enchanted Rock State Park: the central median and side verges of this Interstate are currently carpeted with swathes of bluebonnets, scarlet paintbrush, golden coreopsis, white-flowered milkweed, winecups – and violet, pink and lemon wildflowers the names of which I am not yet acquainted.
Whenever I visit Enchanted Rock – a huge dome of pink rock in the centre of the Hill Country – I always think back to the first time Mattie, Mike and I visited it just a few months after Mattie and I emigrated from the UK. Then we were in the midst of a house renovation, Mattie was about to start Middle School and I recall still feeling somewhat bewildered by the whole experience, so our hike that day for me was a breath of fresh air and, well, enchanting. Yesterday, I followed a trail (about 2.5 miles) around Enchanted Rock so that I was able to view it from all angles; the wildflowers were blooming, as well as dark-red flowers of small cactuses growing out of rocks and a plant called ‘blue curls’, which is similar to and in the same family as the lovely soft-blue caryopteris shrub that used to flower in autumn in my old garden back in Lewes. The scenery during parts of the trail was quite sparse – cacti, yuccas, splendid muhly grasses, old wizened live oaks – whilst other stretches were covered in golden wildflowers and small ponds were beginning to fill with pale-green sedum. At times I heard the soft scrunch of my footfall where the pathway was covered in tiny pieces of pink rock crystal; I picked up a larger piece to take home.
I ate a small picnic lunch on a group of high rocks overlooking the Hill Country and then continued my walk, now encountering large chimney-shaped boulders that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Just feet above my head vultures soared in a sky that earlier had been cloudy but now was that lovely shade of mid-blue I always associate with south Texas. (The only other wildlife I spotted were lark sparrows, cardinals and a black Hill Country squirrel.)
On my way back to San Antonio, I stopped by the small German town of Comfort where I purchased Dahlberg daisy plants from a small livestock & garden shop and enjoyed an excellent coffee and cake in a local café. Mike (who had been working that day) had just picked up Mattie from school on my return.
‘What’s that?’ Mattie asked, immediately having spotted the rock crystal on the kitchen counter.
‘It’s enchanted,’ I replied.
‘Can I have it?’
‘Yes of course! You can make a wish to it every single day.’
‘No, you can only make one wish,’ she declared.
‘OK Mattie,’ I said, with a smile.