A Truckload of Poppies


If you happened to be traveling from Smiley to Gonzales on Farm to Market Road 108, and took a turn onto FM 3234, it wouldn’t be long before you’d see the half-hidden sign for County Road 208: a dirt road barely a lane-and-a-half wide. After a couple of curves and one ninety-degee turn, the road dead-ends at a ranch entrance: one of the few places where turning around is possible.

I’ve never seen another vehicle on the road, although the occasional pickup or cattle trailer tucked behind an outbuilding suggests human activity.  Old and obviously unused trucks are more common. Some, like this abandoned, rusting hulk I found surrounded by white prickly poppies, seemed almost charming, like a bit of whimsical yard art.

Farther down the road, a field of these opportunistic poppies (Argemone albiflora) was framed by newly-leafing trees.

Assorted phlox, Indian paintbrush, ragwort and blue curls provided a colorful background on a property where, whether by accident or intent, other wildflowers had overspread the land.

Even this old house had its share of poppies and ragwort.

Exploring its perimeter, I found the perfect setting for a surprisingly elegant image of the poppies: proof enough that beauty is where you find it.


Comments always are welcome.

68 thoughts on “A Truckload of Poppies

  1. These poppies are so beautiful, and you’re right, the rusted pickup truck looks like purposeful yard art! When we purchased our property decades ago the back field had been used as a dumping ground for old vehicles; one of the sale conditions was for the previous owner to remove them. He did, for the most part, but I still come across the odd hubcap or piece of trim.

    1. It’s like living at an archaeological dig site: only with modern ‘bones’ like hubcaps. I’ve known a couple of people who began collecting old cars for the parts; they’d sell them to people who were missing this or that. Of course, in the days before the internet, that was standard operating procedure. You couldn’t hop online and find your part at ebay or wherever. But times changed, and the piles of metal stayed. I will say that there are a good number of old tractors, plows, and harrows sitting at ranch gates now.

  2. You finally got your white (but not winter) wonderland, thanks to prickly poppies. You must have been happy to find a bunch of pristine specimens, even if the vehicles and buildings were the opposite—in fact many find that contrast desirable.

    1. When I went down this same road on April 5, 2021, there wasn’t a white prickly poppy to be seen. There was quite a mix of other flowers, but no poppies. It’s fascinating how things change from year to year, at least when it comes to flowers. The truck hadn’t changed much, but in 2021 there weren’t any flowers of any sort around it.

    1. There are songs galore with lyrics like, “If these walls could talk…” but I’ve never heard one suggesting how interesting it could be if flowers could talk. It’s an intriguing thought. And of course there are as many stories as there are abandoned vehicles or run-down houses. Not every ending is sad, but endings are a part of life.

    1. This Texas native poppy doesn’t even make it to the midwest, let alone to your area. It’s is a beauty, though very prickly. Those prickles, and the short-lived blooms, make it better for fields than vases — and the flowers do set off the truck nicely.

    1. If anyone knows about the pleasures of country roads, it’s you and your traveling companion! Honestly, the farther into the country I go, the happier I am.

    1. I’ve only heard ‘sunny-side-ups’ applied to Macartney roses, one of our worst invasives. It’s equally good for the poppies, which at least are native — though so enthusiastic in their ability to spread that ranchers and such aren’t always fond of them!

    1. The phrase ’embarassment of riches’ often comes to mind when I’m out and about. I’m sure the other places I’ve lived have had their own floral riches, but I paid little attention to them. My loss!

    1. The luck was in the flowers. I’d seen the truck in 2021, but there weren’t any flowers around it. Add the poppies, and everything changes: presto, change-o, as a magician might say!

    1. It tickles me that our various grocery stores and plant nurseries sell ‘pre-rusted’ items to use as garden art, and here’s the real thing. There’s something about the serendipitous juxtaposition of human culture and the natural world that’s just so pleasing.

    1. I found that you do have some other species, though — all given to the same sort of environment: desert, dry, rocky, and so on. This article made me smile with its observation that “Prickly poppy is the name used for various species of the Argemone genus, all virtually indistinguishable from each other.” Some day I hope to see the Mexican poppy, which is a yellow version of this one.

    1. I’d like to think the descendants still are in the neighborhood: perhaps in one of the very small but neat homes clustered along the paved road. There are a number of family cemeteries in the area; I’ll bet that a little conversation would reveal who the home originally belonged to, and where their family is today. History in rural Texas is as often embedded in the people as in any book, and Texans love to talk — once you’ve won them over.

  3. I love prickly poppies. I collected seeds once and got stuck for my trouble but none came up. and yay! I’m seeing these great pictures on my desk top with the big screen.

    1. Hallelujah and hooray! Let’s hope the system keeps on truckin’, and you keep being able to see the photos. I wonder if you could get these established out in the big lot where the Indian paintbrush are? The soil in your yard might be too rich for them. On the other hand, they’re unpredictable. There wasn’t a poppy to be seen around the truck in 2021.

    1. The stone houses and barns in your area would take a lot longer to tumble down! There is something appealing about old places, especially in the country. I’m glad you liked these!

  4. What a stunning set of scenes to come upon! The poppies are so gorgeous and I love them so much! The truck would be the perfect backdrop to some family photos!

    1. I was delighted beyond all reason to find both the truck and the building. It made me smile that some of the best poppies I found were on this more-than-out-of-the-way road. There was nobody back there to disturb them, that’s for sure. Forest would have loved that truck!

  5. That’s a nice scene with the old Chevy pickup which I’m guessing is sixty years old or so. Corvettes have a fleur-de-lis symbol, why shouldn’t Chevy pickups have a nice poppy.

    1. There’s a fellow on Twitter — a fellow Iowan — who spends his time on that site identifying vehicles in photos people send him: like this. I’d not thought of pinning down the make and model of this one, but since I’ve got the photo, I’ll send it over to him. David’s a marvel, really; he can do farm equipment and toy cars, too.

  6. Lots of interesting contrasts here – the possible melancholy of abandonment vs thriving growth, rust and decay vs the pristine white beauty of the poppies. It all adds up to a set of excellent images.

    1. I do enjoy contrasts like these. I’m sure that’s why wildflowers in cemeteries appeal to me, and why I so enjoy spring and autumn. Summer and winter can turn into “same old, same old,” but seasons marked by change also present dramatic contrasts. Of course, that truck surrounded by poppies adds a neat human element!

    1. Romeos and Juliets, indeed. You just never know what dramas are playing out on those back roads — or in the occasional run-down barn. One of my favorite “you think you know the country? check this out!” videos is “Clap Your Hands” by The Reverend Peyton, his wife Breezy, and the whole Big Damn Band. I first came across them at a Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, MS, and developed a taste for them.

  7. I have a weakness for old trucks, Linda. Many have made it into my posts over the years. Throw in a few flowers (or an old barn), all the better. We went out for a hour hike on the American River this morning. No white poppies but the first orange ones were popping up. Also beautiful.

    1. Remember the old Nature Company store on El Dorado in Berkeley? I bought a framed print of California poppies there, and had it for years. Now, I can’t quite remember what happened to it; I suspect it was one of the things that was water damaged in Tropical Storm Allison. It was a gorgeous piece, though — a fine rendering of those flowers. It’s odd, too, that I don’t remember seeing those poppy fields when I lived there. Perhaps I was in the wrong place. What I do remember vividly is the beauty of the grasses when they began turning gold in the late summer and fall.

      1. Surprised you never saw the fields of them. There are reasons why the poppy is the state flower. You may recall, we had a beautiful hillside in Oregon, which led me to pay much closer attention to them, including to how they shoot out their seeds out to spread.

        1. Speaking of the west coast, I noticed in the grocery store tonight that Tillamook has a new, seasonal ice cream flavor out: vanilla and orange. Despite not being all that fond of Tillamoook in the past, I bit, and lo! It tastes exactly like the dreamsicles we had as kids: a push-up ice cream bar whose flavor I’ve never been able to duplicate — until now!

        2. In those days, I was pretty much oblivious to the natural world. When I think of all the opportunities to explore some wonderful, nearby places in those days, I just shake my head.

          1. Well, coming to it later was certainly better than never coming to it at all, Linda! BTW, the local news here in California today was about a massive flower bloom throughout the state.

      2. The Nature Company Store arrived after I left, Linda. But we did have a Nature Company store in Sacramento. For a while they could be found all over the country.

  8. I bet you were all “smiley” seeing so many of your favorite Prickly Poppies around and about The shot of them in front of the trees and that last isolated shot are wonderful, Linda. The abandoned building and truck are nice additions to those pictures too. Beautiful romantic poppies and rundown abandoned evidence of human endeavors make for good stories.

    1. What was most interesting about this little foray down a back road is that I traveled the same road two years ago. It was just as flowerful, but many of the species were different, and I can’t find any prickly poppies in my photos from that day. I was a little earlier, so that might account for it. Or, it could have been “just one of those things.” It certainly was fun this time. I do like that last photo, but I love the one with the truck. Of course, I have a thing for old trucks, tractors, and such, so that played a role.

    1. One reason I enjoy prowling country roads is that there’s no telling what will appear. A poppy-surrounded truck certainly wasn’t something I expected, but it demanded a stop.

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