Passing Beauty

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Theresa scattered California poppy seeds in our front yard a few years ago. They came and went the following spring, a lovely and passing beauty mark on our property, or so it seemed.

Once they “bloom out,” poppies send up a seed pod that eventually breaks open, the seeds carried away on the breeze. For a couple of years, they were left to do their own thing. And they did.

That magical combination of natural forces has led to an annual poppy takeover, made all the more robust this year by a winter of consistent, drenching rain showers. We had our very own “super bloom.”

This afternoon I spent a couple of hours ripping poppies out of the ground. You see, lovely as they are, their carrot-like root system is a a favorite treat of our local and energetic gopher population. Hidden beneath those lovely orange blooms are mounds of evidence of a subterranean community hard at work.

I like the poppies and they’ve had a good run. But I truly hate those gophers and their feeding frenzy is now at an end.

In the middle of my efforts a neighbor passed by and noticed me removing the poppies. He said, “I was just thinking about scattering some seeds like you did.”

“Oh, you should,” I said. “But just know that the gophers love to eat them once they mature.” He winced a little, and said he might reconsider.

I hope he doesn’t, they really are lovely. But as with anything else worth cultivating, there is always an expiration date, a reality about which we are to be thoughtfully and cautiously aware.

When the gophers come, and they always do, they helpfully tell us that it’s time to move on, time to let the old season pass so that the new one may come.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.

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