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07 June 2010 @ 11:11 am
White Prickly Poppies  

This painting was done on the spring paint-out of the Geriatric Art Society (GAS) in Rockport Texas. I am making a serious effort to learn to identify by name the Texas Wildflowers. As most of you may remember, this GAS group (please don’t laugh or snicker) that I belong to are a bunch of old codgers that are interested in watercolor painting that go on painting trips together in the spring and again in the fall each year. The first morning there in Rockport, I explored the back roads looking for wildflowers to photograph. I found some pretty white flowers along the edge of a county road and photographed them and went back to the Fulton Inn where we were staying and looked them up in my new wildflower identification book. They were “White Prickly Poppies”. The wildflower book said they also can have yellow, rose and red colored flowers.

Not too long after the Rockport trip with the GAS guys, I visited the Bucksnort Ranch, owned by my cousin Robert Coleman and his wife Betty, about ten miles north of the little village of Knippa, Texas. Those of you that follow my art and story telling, will remember that Knippa, Texas, is where my grandfather, along with a bunch of uncles, aunts and cousins, lived when I was growing up in nearby Uvalde, Texas. Robert gave me a tour of his ranch in his jeep. The south half of ranch is on the Rio Grande Plain which is relatively flat with good deep sandy loam soil. The north half of the ranch is in the rough and rocky foothills of the Edwards Plateau. The ranch that day was covered with all sorts of wildflowers including the Prickly Poppies. Every time we saw the Prickly Poppies, I was thinking how beautiful the flowers were and Robert was commenting that they are really bad for his pasture since they crowd out the plants and grasses that his cattle eat.

Last Monday, May 17, 2010, our oldest daughter, Karen Duban, and I left for a week long visit to Big Bend National Park. It took twelve hours, leaving at five o’clock in the morning, to drive the 650 miles from my home on the north side of Houston to The Chisos Mountains Lodge in Big Bend. We first followed I.H. 10 to San Antonio and then followed U. S. 90 to Marathon, Texas. There we turned south on U. S. 385 that goes to Big Bend. This highway, U. S. 385, follows the old Comanche Indian trail used by them for hundreds of years. They used to come down from the high staked plains to raid down in old Mexico to get horses and scalps and to bring captured children back to their villages. As we drove down that highway in the late afternoon, we were looking at the same scenery and mountains that the Comanche Indian warriors were looking at as they rode their horses down the trail going to Old Mexico. From time to time, there were bunches of White Prickly Poppy flowers along the roadside. I wondered if those Comanche Indian warriors even noticed or admired the wildflowers they saw along the trail such as the White Prickly Poppies that we were enjoying seeing that afternoon.

I have read a lot of books about the Comanche Indians. I bought another one at the Chisos Mountains Lodge titled The Captured by Scott Zesch. This book is a study of the children captured in Texas during the nineteenth century by Indians. Trust me, it is not a book for the feint-hearted reader. While reading this book and with my recent interest in painting flowers, I am wondering about something. Could the mind of a human being, such as a Comanche or Apache Indian, that was capable of doing, and even enjoy doing, the most unbelievably cruel and brutal things to other human beings from babies to the elderly, also appreciate and enjoy something intangible such as the beauty of a flower, the sound of the wind rustling the leaves of a cottonwood tree or the musical sound of a babbling brook?