Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why I Love Wildflowers: And Why You Won't Find Them on OKCupid

Janapnese Meadow Rue
Spiraea japonica
I'm a sucker for wildflowers. In fact, just know, if you are hiking with me: THIS HIKER MAKES FREQUENT STOPS. Classifying wildflowers is one of my favorite reasons to hike. Once identified, I loudly pronounce its name at every occurrence, mostly so I won't forget it. Wood-Sorrel. Rattlesnake Hawkweed. Rue-Anemone. Also, to annoy you.

Why do I love them so much? Probably for the same reason I like polyamory (and variety in general). Wildflowers are amazing because they are unexpected. There I am hiking along, tired, sweaty, thirsty. I come around a switchback and suddenly a hillside full of Brook Meadowrue takes my breath away. Meadowrues are my particular favorite.

I record the flowers I've met in my field guide, as well as the time of year and trail where I saw them. Some flowers I have seen hundreds of times. Thyme-Leaved Bluets are everywhere. Even out of season, I can recognize the wildflowers I've previously identified. In fact, it's hard for me not to see them. Because I'm looking for them.

Relationships can be this way too. (Oh, yeah, I'm also a sucker for metaphors.) What makes a finding a relationship so wonderful is when you don't really expect it. Whether it's that "friend" you've had forever who suddenly notices you, or that cute guy at work, or the ever-so-rare OKCupid matchup (does this ever really happen?!) it feels miraculous. "Wait, you feel the same way I do?"

Then there are those days, usually when it's raining, where it feels like I've hiked for miles and not spotted anything noteworthy. Hunting for the proverbial unicorn, if you will. There are many plants in my field guide that I have never and may never see.

Green Dragon
Arisaema dracontium
This makes me think of the countless hours you can spend on OKCupid and still come up with nothing. Sure, it can be frustrating, but then, most things in life happen this way. The more you look for something, the harder it seems it is to find it. Additionally, you're not going to improve your chances by making your ideal romantic partner the ever elusive Green Dragon (see photo). How I would love to see one of those some day.

Does that mean I cease hiking through the woods? If I do then my chances of spotting the Green Dragon are zero or worse. Whether hunting for plants or partners, you press on. You continue to hike, to search, to tweak your profile to attract just the right mate. And regardless of the results, keep putting one squashy wet boot in front of the other like the happy hiker you are.

What's been bending my ear lately (and I realize this is not a new problem) is the constant complaining (I think it's complaining anyway) on all forums poly about How do I find someone? Where do I meet people? Why doesn't OKCupid work? 

How do you meet someone? That's easy, go out and talk to people! Where? Anywhere that people are. They're not hard to find, shockingly. But they're probably not poly. They won't want to date me. Is this all that people are to you? Potential dates? People are like plants, there are many of them and oftentimes there are far too many of the status quo. (Damn ferns!) But that's what makes wildflowers so beautiful! They stand out. And these people, the ones who stand out, are worth meeting, whether they are potential mates or not. These are the people who challenge you and change you. They are worth endless days of hiking just to catch a glimpse of because they are so rare and beautiful.

When you are lucky enough to find that rare and beautiful flower, do you scoop it up quickly and run away into the night, laughing manically (... clearly I've been watching too much kid's television). Poaching is a real crime that state and national parks deal with, sadly. Besides depriving the plant of it's chosen environment, poachers also deprive the rest of us of their beauty. Even worse than that, in my opinion, is how relocating a wildflower converts it to a domestic flower, essentially detracting the very thing that makes it so extraordinary in the first place. The fact that it's survival does not depend on humanity at all. That it is wild.

Poaching is a dangerous habit with lovers too. Not only will the thing you desire begin to lose its desirable qualities, but, in the end, you will end up hurting the very thing you are trying to love. You will destroy it.

Which brings me to the second reason wildflowers are so beautiful. They aren't controlled, or shouldn't be. They exist for their own sake. If others receive pleasure from seeing or being with them, what a great bonus! But it's not necessary for their survival. In other words, people, the worthwhile ones anyway, are independent of others. They don't need partners and they certainly don't need you. If they allow you to tag along for a while, then count your blessings.

Thyme-Leaved Bluets
Houstonia serpyllifolia
Of course, maybe you're not cruising OKCupid for wildflowers. You'll just take any willing plant that comes along, or that fucks well. (Hmmm ... plants fucking? Evidently, I need to rethink this metaphor.) I will tell you the secret to finding wildflowers, though it only refers to people, not plants. Still trying to concoct a formula for the plants. The secret is to be a wildflower yourself. Be independent. Be the kind of person you are wanting to meet. And be satisfied to sit on a sunny hillside and wait for that determined hiker to come along. There's no guarantee how long you will have to wait, but the more beautiful you are, the harder you will be to miss.

Another secret, once you learn to spot wildflowers, you find them everywhere. Like Thyme-Leaved Bluets.