Chicken Flowers -
When I first moved to Arkansas, it was in the December of 1998. When spring time came around, bright yellow flowers blossomed all over the fields everywhere I looked. I instantly fell in love. I noticed though that the majority of them were in horse or cow pastures. I remember asking my new husband what these brilliant yellow flowers were.
"They're Chicken Flowers," he explained. "I don't know what they're really called, but that's what we've always called them in my family. The chickens will eat the feed they are given and then when they poop, the seeds sprout and the flowers spread." I didn't know how much of that I believed since they weren't in the chicken coops, but I took it as a name that I adopted for the lovely yellow buds. To this day, I call them Chicken Flowers. I never have discovered the real name for these sunshine splashes seen every spring.
I've managed to discover that chickens have nothing to do with the lemon flowers, but the name remains. They're found each spring in many states across the nation. They pop up about this time each year even here in California. They cover hillsides between home and work. I pass them and smile, remembering the many times they have popped up in my life.
A few years ago I was traveling up a twisted mountainside not far from home. I got to a pull off and couldn't help taking a few pictures. They were lovely. I planned on going back to that same spot later that year and taking pictures of Pete's 1960 Austin Healey Bug Eye Sprite (car) with the flowers used as a backdrop, but life got in the way and I didn't get back there for a full year. The following spring I didn't waste any time. I went with Pete straight up to that hillside and we took multiple photos of the beautiful surroundings.
As I drove along today, I came across a field of these flowers. My mind traveled back to distant times. More than 10 years ago I stood in a field of horses, admiring the beauty surrounding me. The drawing I created from that day became the reason I called myself an artist. My boss had seen it as I worked on it during a lunch break one day. He asked me to draw a portrait of his dogs. Since then, both of his dogs have passed on. To this day he plans to be buried with that drawing in his arms.
Although the story of how I became an artist will be saved for another day, I will always love the little buds I call Chicken Flowers.
Sometimes, like today, when I pass a field of the flowers I get a mixture of emotions flooding through me. I smile at the memory of my drawing. I weep internally at the memory of that fabulous day with Pete, driving across the fields and hills in order to get the pictures we wanted. I laugh at the name I call them. I sigh at each memory in turn.
Memories make us who we are. Our stories are all we ever really own. These lovely little Chicken Flowers have a big piece of my past - even as they stand now in the fields of yellow and green, blooming each year whether we see them or not. They will continue to bloom even after we're all long gone from this earth. Something about that brings me comfort and peace.
The Chicken Flowers are a part of me and who I have become in a small way. So, in that same way, a piece of me will continue living on for many, many years, each time the Chicken Flowers bloom in spring.
The Chicken Flowers will live on forever. As a result, so will I.