“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 Cellmates.com 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.