Saturday, April 18, 2020

P is for Poppies

Every spring, social media comes alive with posts from my California friends about the poppies. The poppies are about to bloom, the poppies are blooming, the poppies bloomed. They are a VERY BIG DEAL to Californians, and when we lived there, we were told they were NOT to be missed and that we should make a point of going.

My parents came to visit us one spring during the poppy season, and as we were looking for ways to entertain them anyway, it seemed like a good time to finally see the famous poppies. I was also HUGELY pregnant, so it made perfect sense to drive a couple of hours to the high desert and walk around a poppy reserve.

We drove to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve with no information other than that we would be speechless at the beauty of the poppies. It was spring, so we each had a light jacket and high hopes for a lovely day. We began to see some orangey splotches on the hillsides as we neared the place.

"Are THOSE the poppies?" someone in our car asked, probably my mother.

"Nah, THAT can't be the poppies! Everyone told us they were EVERYWHERE and all you could see was fields and fields of them!" someone in our car answered, probably me.

We arrived at the reserve, parked the car, and got out, ready to find the poppies, but the moment we opened the car doors, we were blasted with a frigid and wickedly strong wind that cut right through our little spring jackets.

Bracing ourselves against the cold and wind, we huddled together and joined the other visitors on a trail. 

"Where are all the poppies?" someone asked, probably my mother.

"I DON'T KNOW," someone answered, probably me, because we saw fields of little green plants and an occasional peep of orange, but not the acres and acres of gorgeous flowers we were expecting.

We were miserably cold and could feel the icy wind all the way to our bones, when someone, probably my husband, asked another visitor where the poppies were.

My parents trying not to show they are half frozen.

"Right here," the other visitor said, sweeping his hand from the hillside with the flecks of orange scattered over it to the edge of the path we were on. 

We looked at him, looked at each other, then looked more closely at the orange flecks in the field next to us and realized that THESE were the famous poppies. And they were colder than WE were and had curled up against the relentlessly chilly wind, refusing to show their faces, and I can't say I blame them. It's exactly what I wanted to do.

We snapped a couple of photos to prove we'd been there, then we headed back to the warmth of the car. Adventure over.

Someone may try to change my mind (you were there on a particularly windy day, it's not always that cold, the poppies REALLY ARE gorgeous), but while I commiserated with those trembling, cold poppies, I believe poppy viewing is best done by looking at photos of them from a warm, comfy place.

Oh, so pregnant!


  1. I can see why you'd expect more. Sounds like a decent outing though, even if it was too cold.
    I nominated you for a Blogging Liebster Award on my blog. I picked people who are on the #atozchallenge list.

  2. How disappointing. I've never seen the poppies in California but I don't think I'll add it to my bucket list quite yet. Weekends In Maine

    1. Satisfy yourself by looking at photos. No need to add it to the bucket list!

  3. When we lived down by Austin, TX in 2013 - 2015 - I was working in the Mental Health Field. I had gone to Georgetown to hold a Support group and I drove past this house. The yard was covered in red flowers. I had never seen anything like it before. I kept driving and I saw more and more of these same red flowers.

    When I got to my destination, I asked what are those red flowers I keep seeing around town and have you seen that house around the corner with their yard completely covered in them? The lady looked at me as if I had lost my mind - and she laughed. Then she sighs and say's, 'those are Poppies and we have a Annual Poppy Festival every year, haven't you ever been?"

    small world - those flowers were gorgeous!!!!! Now that we are back in the Dallas/Ft Worth area, I wonder if they would grow up here. I need to look into that.

    Thanks for sharing this story...I enjoyed it!

    1. Ahh, WARM poppies! Maybe that's the difference? My friend who lives in Texas posted some beautiful photos she took of bluebells. I'd rather go see them than those stinkin' poppies!

  4. You found the photos! Thanks for sharing. Oh, this brought back so many memories! Your post is spot-on. The Antelope Valley is windy ALL THE TIME. How else are the tumbleweeds supposed to move? During the time the poppies are blooming, that wind is usually bitter cold. On years where there has been rain, the poppies can be spectacular, but, as you discovered, if it is cold and windy, the poppies don't open up. Another thing to realize is that locals are almost as excited to see the green leaves as they are the orange blossoms. Seriously, I have a Facebook friend who recently posted a photo of a strip of green grass/weeds growing by the side of the road, and commented on how, once a year, the Antelope Valley is beautiful. It's all a matter of perspective. I remember seeing the poppies the first spring we were there--after moving there in the heat of the previous summer--and thinking, "OK, if it is green and beautiful each spring, maybe I can handle living here." One more advantage of just seeing the poppies through posted photos--you significantly decrease your chances of sharing the walking path with a Mojave green rattlesnake! (Yep, there is a story there.)

    1. I found the photos! I was huge! And it's my proof that the poppies are highly overrated. I'm sure you miss those tumbleweeds now that you're in Utah, right? Oh, and I never knew about the Mojave green rattlesnake until I researched the name of the poppy reserve and saw a notice about it. My mom wouldn't have gotten out of the car if she'd known!