Wildflower Wonderment: 3 Steps To Serenity

Written by on August 10th, 2013 // Filed under Blog, Photography

Mount Timpanogos is my favorite mountain. That should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me at all, but it deserves to be repeated nonetheless. I could go on and on about the raw power of the massif, the Native American history, the Mormon Pioneer reliance upon the topography, and the rich heritage of climbing that has been around since 1911 (which is fascinating, by the way).

Instead, I’m going to talk about wildflowers.

Seep–spring arnica framing the ever-impressive Timpanogos headwall.

There are 15 species of wildflower that commonly grow in the Timpanogos Wilderness area, each with its unique shape, size and color.

  • Leafy Jacobs Ladder, Polemonium foliosissimum
  • Wasatch beardtongue, Penstemon cyanthus
  • Sticky geranium, Geranium viscosissimum
  • Tall larkspur,  Delphinium occidentale
  • Lupine, Lupinus argenteus
  • Sulphur buckwheat, Eriogonum umbellatum
  • American bistort, Polygonum bistortoides
  • Seep–spring arnica, Arnica longifolia
  • Mountain columbine, Aquilegia caerulea
  • Yellow columbine, Aquilegia flavescens
  • Mountain bluebell, Mertensia ciliata
  • Milfoil yarrow, Achillea millefolium
  • Pale yellow Indian paintbrush, Castilleja rhexifolia var. sulphurea
  • Wavy–leaf Indian paintbrush, Castilleja applegatei
  • Royal Indian paintbrush, Castilleja rhexifolia
Unrivaled beauty.

I’ve been thinking about names a lot recently. Taking photos of all these flowers has made me curious as to what they’re called. But as William Shakespeare penned over 400 years ago, “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” What value is there to a name, particularly a scientific name? Would it not be easier to, instead of saying Seep–spring arnica to say, “Yeah, it’s that yellow sunflowery lookin’ one.” I’ve ultimately concluded that for many people, perhaps the majority of people, names are purely arbitrary. For all intents and purposes, a rose is called a rose because that’s what it’s called. Makes me think of that episode of Neature Walks when he says that you can tell that it’s an Aspen because of the way it is.

Obviously, from a scientific perspective, it’s critical to differentiate flowers one from another, and although the lay person doesn’t say Lupinus argenteus, they still use isolating words like “purple” and “pretty” to separate the Lupine cognitively from the multitude.

In similar ways, I think the expression “stop and smell the roses” has a neat way of conveying the same idea. Our lives can easily take on a current beyond our direct control, and if we don’t deliberately separate the beautiful moments from the mundane, it’s not inconceivable to get swept away against our wills.

That’s why that phrase––”stop and smell the roses”––is a deep life lesson that comprises what I believe to be the 3 steps to achieving serenity amid the raging currents of life.

  1. Stop: In order to appreciate life’s nuances, it’s important to hit the brakes from time to time. Life is fast-paced, but you can’t go through your entire day/week/month/year without taking a breather for some emotional and spiritual R&R.
  2. And: Making time for serenity is about inclusion. The word “and” signifies an addition to our already jam-packed lives and schedules. Something’s gotta give, and sometimes we all need to play a little bit of Tetris but the benefit is well worth the effort.
  3. Roses: As I mentioned before, identifying which moments are beautiful is key. To be fair, if you have the right attitude, you can probably track down the silver linings in most moments, but let’s get real: few of us are that positive. Instead, I think it’s critical to identify and acknowledge that some moments are special and worthy of admiration, just like the wildflowers in the Timpanogos Basin.


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