HARD TO BE HUMBLE: When the topic of "what is your state's dot dot dot?" arises with people who live elsewhere, it can be difficult not to excitedly pounce all over each symbol-oriented question, even as the other present participants hem and haw and try to recall their state bird or state rock. We mean, of course, yes, absolutely, other states possess magnificent state cookies and state songs and state symbols. No one is doubting that. But when your home turf has the redwood & sequoia as its state trees, and the grizzly bear as its state animal, becoming puffy-of-chest, and jumping to answer with pride, is kind of expected. Californians has many official symbols which provoke our puffy-of-chest-ness, bears and redwoods among them, but to watch a Golden State resident bloom when asked the state flower is a thing of rare beauty, indeed.
THE CALIFORNIA POPPY... is our best bud, as you well know, and it is a source of orange-hued happiness for many, even those who find flowers a bit on the fussy side. But those people often change their tunes when they see a wild hillside of poppy glory, up in the Sierra foothills or at the edge of a more arid desert. For when the poppies get to blanketing wherever they are going to blanket, for a week or three or just the briefest of windows, Californian pride grows. So, where to go to see some good poppy action, and some fine wildflowers that are not poppies?
HELLO, MARIPOSA COUNTY: The Official Yosemite/Mariposa County Tourism Bureau has a page of wildflower-nice routes, including a toodle from Mariposa to Coulterville, where poppies may, if you're lucky, be seen. Ben Hur Road is also a suggestion, and while this is a longer drive, from three to four hours, the "canyons, streams, and views" are worth it. Or will you head for Merced River Canyon to see redbud and goldfield, as well as some possible poppies? Who knows? When wildflower roaming calls, it is hard to say. As always, what's blooming is a tricky thing, but enjoying the drive with a friend -- and quizzing them on all of the California state symbols as you go -- is a scene that's as pretty as a poppy. Yes, we said it and we're standing by it, too.