Written by Jiarui Ye
“It happened at the end of winter, in a year when the poppies were strangely slow to shed their petals: for mile after mile, from Benares onwards, the Ganga seemed to be flowing between twin glaciers, both its banks being blanketed by thick drifts of white-petalled flowers. It was as if the snows of the high Himalayas had descended on the plains to await the arrival of Holi and its springtime profusion of colour.” -Amitav Ghosh(Photo by Jiarui Ye)
Spring has come and gone, and nature’s colors were more vibrant than ever. Thanks to 2019’s rainy downpours and snowy deluge, the seeds of flowers that were dried out were watered and filled with nutrients. For Californians, it was the best time to see the flowers bloom as their explosive color is shocking and beautiful. From December through May, we got to see the blossoms spreading all over, especially at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve.
To see the magic behind the mixture of water and sunlight, I started off from the PCC Campus and turned onto the 210 freeway- westbound. I passed the San Gabriel mountains, once dull from the extreme heatwave last year, but now flourishing green. Cruising through the beauty of nature, I passed Santa Clarita and the Six Flags Amusement Park—loud and boisterous in contrast to the serene peace that the environment provided. Perhaps I enjoy the dangers of driving on mountainous and winding roads. Only another 8.8 miles to reach the Lancaster Road for the entrance of the reserve.
Even a few miles out, I could already see the immense bloom that took over every available field. It was a smooth ride of vibrant yellows, oranges, and purples as far as the eye could see. Children were sitting in the grass taking pictures. Adults were posing in their white dresses and suits for wedding shots as the wind blew the poppies ever so slightly. I saw the thousands of individuals who flocked over to this place just to see the majesty of the flowers.
While observing the population in the midst of the sea of gold, I was reminded of the Sea of Poppies novel written by Amitav Ghosh and reminded of the adventures that people take to reach their stories-- just like a replication of people coming to see the poppies. The glowing flowers act as a symbol of achievement, just like the quest for goals in Mauritius for Paulette, Deeti, and Zachary, in Ghosh's novel. Each individual has their own journey. For Paulette, the French orphan, the struggle of racial ambiguity leads her to find a safe haven for exiles in her society. In her life, the poppy is a representation of the struggle for freedom and the grace within that struggle.
Many do not know this but while the poppy seed is a beautiful flower, it can morph itself into something dangerous. In the novel, the poppy symbolizes danger and unrest in Deeti's life. Deeti's neurotic husband becomes addicted to the allure and potent aura which arises from these bright orange beacons. That is exactly what I felt when I looked at the hundreds of thousands who had flocked to the sea of bright colors in the poppy fields. The poppy also has the ability to transform itself—it rejuvenates and becomes something greater. Zachary's revival from a nobody to a second-in-command is like the symbolic representation of the cycle of water, sunlight and nutrients. That is why poppies are so important in culture and in symbolism.
While it is only once in a few years that Californians get to see such a super bloom, the vast nature of the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve is not one to be missed. This December go out and see the beauty that is both rare and plentiful. The journey of strength and struggle can also be learned by comparing the individuals in the Sea of Poppies novel.
Jiarui is a student studying buisness and finance with a flare for travel writing! She says, "My idea of perfect happiness is finding a balance between career and personal life".
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