Sunday, May 20, 2012

Don't Pick The Poppies!

“What are you in for?”

It has been a long time since I was asked that question and I hope I never hear it again. Yes, I have done jail time. It’s difficult to imagine by looking at me, but I have a record. A real record…no, not the vinyl kind, read by a needle to amplify music on a phonograph, the criminal kind.

It’s been five years since that awful day. Spring serves to remind me. Understand though, I’m not blaming spring at all; it’s one of the most pleasant seasons. Almost too pleasant.

It was in the spring of 2003, when I visited the California Poppy reserve. I was walking past the visitor’s center when a park ranger smiled, waved and told me the Goldfields were opening up. I was surprised because they were one of the most private families in our cul-de-sac…and how did he know them anyway?

I was amazed at the high density of poppy plants. It was as if God stroked the hillside with a brush dipped in vibrant orange paint. I followed the Coyote droppings along the trail and let my eyes drink in the majesty of the blooming Filaree and Blue Dick. I really must research the history of the latter. It caught me by surprise, as I watched a Monarch butterfly swooping and hovering. I felt an intense urge to pick one of poppies… and so I did, unconsciously of course. One led to another and I must have slipped into some kind of picking compulsion that had been lying dormant. Before I knew it, I was clutching a bouquet that I don’t even remember picking. Of course, the park ranger didn’t accept this explanation and the next thing I knew; I was being finger printed, booked and looking at a possible jail sentence of two to five years.

How could this be? It wasn’t as if I had received an illegal stock market tip or anything as horrendous as that. I picked some flowers for God’s sake. Still, I was forced to register as a PPO, protected poppy offender. I’m not allowed to come within a hundred yards of a protected flower…ever.

I shared a jail cell for about twenty minutes with a young woman who was looking at three years for illegally duplicating a DVD of Sing Yourself Silly, by the Muppets. She may have had a hefty fine to pay as well. I will have to register with to look her up. I’m curious to know what happened to her and I don’t want to wait until the ten-year reunion to find out.

I’ve since joined a twelve-step program for my flower picking addiction. I have a sponsor and attend meetings regularly. She makes me stay far away from the floral section of the supermarket and return arrangements sent to me by admirers. I still get a giddy feeling when I pass the Goldfield’s garden but I found if I begin to skip, it takes my mind off my PU’s (picking urges).

And in case you haven’t guessed by now….just kidding.


  1. Too funny...we had poppies all over the hills in my Northern Califonia country property and I still to this days remember my brothers telling me that I was going to jail if I picked them...I could never figure out who was going to catch me doing it...we lived in BFE!!

  2. I was in Turkey when you wrote this fun post, coincidentally standing in a field of opium poppies. Now those were poppies worth picking. Take care.