31 Days of Paying Attention — Day Eight


Yes, this is the very photo from which the button for this series was created. At that same University arboretum where we discovered the buckeye butterfly posted yesterday, we also enjoyed wandering through a long and winding World Gardens pathway. And our eyes were drawn immediately to a wide variety of these strange and wonderful flowering shrubs called protea.

Protea are native to South Africa but are showing up more and more in southern California landscapes. The conditions between the two climates are remarkably similar. How do I know that? Because many years ago, my husband and I spent a tiny bit of time in South Africa on our way up to our home-for-two-years-as-newlyweds in Choma, Zambia. Surprisingly, these plants also seem to thrive on the sloping hills of Haleakala on the island of Maui in the Hawaiian archipelago, a much more tropical and humid environment. They are hardy, unusual and quite beautiful, in their own unique way. The one above was the first fully open bloom on a huge bush full of buds. The bush was at least two feet taller than I was, so the display must be spectacular right about now.

This smaller, lower to the ground variety is similar to ones sold in grocery store flower markets and is commonly called a pincushion protea. Can you see why?

And this one, I’ve never seen before. It looks for all the world like a particularly capacious ear of corn, doesn’t it? This bush was also quite large — more like a small tree — and was covered in these interesting, bright yellow blooms.


Paying attention to protea helps me to remember that God delights in variety. It also reminds me that what might at first seem strange and peculiar to my untrained eye might be a source of refreshment and appreciation to someone who has grown up with these prolific flowering shrubs. Sometimes, it’s what you’re used to, isn’t it? And it’s really, really good for me to see things I am not used to. To try out new ideas, meet new people, consider a perspective different than my own. What about you? 



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  1. Margie Bicknell says

    When the family moved to the Seattle area from Pasadena, CA., we all marveled at how green it was, even in August. Dark green, mint green, light green….and trees, firs, cedars, and so many varieties of maples. When fall arrived, the firs and cedars shed their light brown needles and tip growth; but the maples….oh, yes, the maples. They burst forth in red, gold, yellow, rust, magenta splendor. Small leaves and 12″ dish size leaves were dropped and then as they dried, were tossed about by the wind.

    Well, it’s fall again, and the maples are changing color and the cedars are shedding their dead bits, and the wind is beginning to blow. The earth is beginning its slow sojourn into winter, bedding down before the chill, and it never fails to show me GOD’s glory. This glorious rhythm of life and the colors and the smells are all there for our enjoyment, and it reminds me of all of the promises of GOD, that sustain me through the rhythms of my life.

  2. Elaine Byer Reed says

    Every once in a while I look up on a beautiful California sunny day with its mountains,flowers, even desert plants, ocean, and other beauties; and thank God that he answered my desire to spend my life in CA. I have loved the new ideas, people, and attitudes. Sometimes it has been frightening. But God seemed to give me a little at a time to make it easier.

    • I love living in CA, too, Elaine. I love to visit my friend Margie’s beautiful state of WA, but I’m very glad to live where I do. God puts us where we are, I do believe that.