One of the many great things about taking A Million Steps on the Camino de Santiago was reconnecting with nature. There is a calm inner peace that develops while strolling and soaking up every ounce of the scenery.
The sunflowers were magnificent. If you ever wonder how little bags of black seeds make it to the mini-mart or how jugs of sunflower oil arrive at your local grocer, I have the answer. These spectacular flowers are everywhere on the Camino. I cannot remember a single day without passing several large tracts of these beauties. Many fields were dark, dry, and ready for harvest. Others displayed long, green, leafy stems with vibrant yellow flowers. All of the plants were very stiff with faces pointing toward the ground.
During a massive windstorm, I passed a field that performed a most enjoyable and entertaining dance for me. Without any rhythm or synchronization, the sunflowers randomly swayed and bobbed in the wind. The exposed faces appeared to be glimpsing up at me before returning their downward focus. I was grateful again for my newfound Camino awareness. With a cluttered mind, I easily could have missed the entire scene.
I was born and raised in Boise, Idaho: often referred to as The Treasure Valley. South will take you to high-country desert and north ascends to mountains that stretch through Canada. The city is surrounded by foothills. In my youth, these hills seemed to be dark brown and useful for drinking Coors and trying to unsnap bras. With the passage of many years, some maturity and clarity, I began to mountain bike and hike in these areas.
This beautiful city has four distinct seasons and the hills are in constant state of change. Moisture from snow pack combined with spring rain stirs the first blooms. The early green grasses are dotted with clusters of bright yellow balsamroots. Toward the end of May, their decay begins as they descend to brown clumpy leaves. I imagine this is what tobacco looks like before harvest.
Football fields of turquoise, purple, and white bachelor buttons spread like wildfire while the yellow fades to brown. From the city, the hills appear to be barren. From the bike or by foot, they are bursting with life. The pungent smell of lupines wakes the nose before the eyes discover slopes with Kaleidoscope colored flowers. Your mind can easily imagine the summer ending and the return to snowfall.
Imbibing the blooms reminds me that change is constant. Miss a moment and everything is different. Skip the rides and you will eventually find yourself ready for your own harvest without ever connecting to one of the simplest pleasures of life.
Turn off Netflix and walk!