To watch a flower bloom.

To watch a flower bloom with six new friends as the sun sinks below the horizon and darkness descends from the sky.

To watch a flower bloom as it quivers and shakes. As it unfurls with a passion to spread its white petals in the cool air and ready itself to the course of nature.

Just the night prior, Anika had regaled us with a story about their time on the WRFI course in the Colorado Plateau, which imbued the magic of experiencing one of nature’s most treasured acts, such as observing the movement of life we usually deem stationary. Hearing the reverence and awe within Ani’s voice instilled their sense of wonder into the group’s collective psyche. They shared that the Tufted Evening Primrose (Oenothera caespitosa) blooms at nightfall with its sweet fragrance and light color luring night pollinators, like the Hawk Moth. Once pollinated, these white petals turn pink in color, then wilt the following day.

The Southwest Climate Studio Art group of nine, instructors included, had been staying at Bandelier National Monument near Los Alamos, New Mexico. Our final night in this fascinating location of immense culture, a monumental science lab, and diverse sets of  livelihoods was to end with a sunset walk to the Rim Trail after our midterm Celebration of Knowledge. We were graced with one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever witnessed. With our teachers in grading mode staying behind and our group’s cumulative admiration and anticipation, we set off to the lookout. 

About a mile down the trail, the faster walkers passed a group of four closed up flower buds, and they stopped to examine and point them out. We wondered if tonight would be the night of their introduction to the upper world. It was confirmed that these were the esteemed Tufted Evening Primrose and an excitement filled the air. After some consideration of staying and waiting or going to the cliff then heading back, we decided to venture onward. Speculation as to the timing of their debut and skepticism if this night was their night infused conversation. While the sky prolonged the waning sun with fading pastels, we made our way on the rocky and dirt-filled path. Not fifteen minutes later, Anika, Ben, and Ella were running our way in a full out sprint.

“Run, run. Get to the flowers!”

A mad dash descended upon our group as the understanding clicked into place; it was now or never to see the flowers unfurl. We raced back to the location we’d last stopped, panting and gasping for air, out of breath from who knows how long of a run at high elevation. Gathering around the still bundled plant, exhaustion and a bit of sadness tinged our collective morale. We thought our speculation was wrong. Sitting in a circle around the Primroses, breathing deeply and savoring the very tail end of light as the clouds turned to dark gray, lively chatter picked up again. Inside jokes, cackling laughter, and appreciation for one another suffused the space, completely lost in our own world.


Seven pairs of eyes snapped down to a fully bloomed flower, shrieks of shock tumbled out of bodies marveling at the beautiful cycle of life. A gift unasked for but wholeheartedly appreciated. With our attention at the ready and holding hands, one by one the three flowers bloomed right before our very eyes. A sight to behold and a memory to never fade. As cameras were left behind in camp, we were fully immersed in the moment. 

A flower blooming is an ordinary act, a cycle within nature, completed year after year throughout all centuries. But to watch a flower bloom in real time, with an intentional presence, and collective holding of breath, pauses all other thoughts. Reality becomes centered on the being that you are connecting with as they connect with you, and in the wide world all beings live within each other.

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