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Blossom White February



The Millican Alliance envisions children and adults learning and playing in nature every day.  Our team works to live this vision.  Often for me, ‘Play and Learning’ take the form or walking and observing a path I know well, my discovery path.

But exploring nature in February can feel a bit underwhelming and cold.  Before the quickening of springtime, the leafing out on emerald branches or the shine of yellow sunflowers, life can appear drab in the slow days of this season.  As I worked to author an encouraging message on the importance of spending time outdoors, I struggled to find the motivation to leave the torpor warmth of my house.

I know moving in the wilderness awakens a lethargic body and being outdoors calms the mind and helps us think clearly.  But more personally, there is a curious explorer in me who awakens to wonders small and interesting and I am never sorry about taking time to explore.   

So, being true to my naturalist’s mission, I fought the urge to loaf and took a step outside.  I first noticed the white lacing of a delicate web as the sunlight illuminated beads of dew hanging on spider silk. Then a sweet fragrance awakened my senses.  My eyes tried to catch up, darting through the dormant flower beds, but the source was high above my head.  Bunches of simple white flowers hung from the leafless branches of a Mexican Plum tree.   A delightful joy that I forget about each year.  I have already rediscovered a treasure lost through the frame of my windows. 

A slow walk in the Texas winter is a gift. The landscape is muted, but the absence of vivid color awakens a sensory adventure, undistracted by the visual grandness that ordinarily defines a natural scene. 

When the tree branches are bare of summer leaves, it becomes easier to hear and see birds flittering from limb to limb.   Splatters of light hued lichen and bright flashes of moss can be found climbing bare trunks and frondless vines.  Through the density of the woods, more white flowers and shiny spider webs stand in bright contrast to the dark grey tree-line.

Nature, in her wisdom, does not conform to the immediacy of our modern pace. The wilderness waits patiently for us to notice the beauty of subtle transitions.   Nature’s greatest wonders unfold gradually to reveal a message, but those wonders will be missed by staying indoors. 

So again I walked my discovery path, and looked for quiet shades of white and ivory, only to learn another .  And when I finished my slow walk through the February landscape, it was true; I felt more awake, the breeze felt refreshing, my mind was calm and yet full of curiosity and playful thoughts of how nature will unfold new week.

Andrea Merritt

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