Recently, my bff Heidi and I made a trip down Highway 90 to Fairview Riverside State Park in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, on the northern shore of Lake Pontchartain. Along the highway, red clover popped up everywhere. I’m not sure if these flowers grow wild or by design of parish officials to border the roads, but they are the surest sign of the change of seasons down in Louisiana.

At the park, other native varieties showed off their pretty colors amidst the shadows of the tall trees that bordered the bayou. I found irises hiding shyly on the carpeted floor of the park.

And of course, there was honeysuckle. It brought back memories of my childhood when my sisters and I would roam the swampy mess near MawMaw’s house in search of this “food” flower.

We would harvest it, remove the stamen, and suck on the petals to get to the “honey,” all the while pretending that we were surviving in the woods. Heidi and her sister used to do the same thing, so she and I went ahead – for old times’ sake – and drank of this nectar to survive in the swamp.

And then I spotted an indication of future swamp survival – a flowering blackberry! Blackberries are my favorite berry in the world. We took this hike in March, so the berries had not yet come to fruition. (May is blackberry season in Louisiana.) If they had, I would have eaten those right then and there to survive in the swamp.

Harvesting blackberries is a labor of love. The fruit is protected from being easily plucked by these prickly appendages – ouch! (You should see my hands during blackberry season – frightful!) Oh, and the other danger when harvesting blackberries is, of course…snakes.

Riverside State Park (75)

I’m not sure what this flower is. It looks like a cross between a camellia and a blackberry. Hmmmmm…

Near the entrance to the park, in the garden, a solitary camelia tried earnestly to hang on to winter. Camelias are my very favorite flower – a winter blossom in Louisiana. So delicate and feminine. So demure and understated like a genteel Southern lady.

I left the park with my bff and we headed back down Highway 90 to get a cup of Starbucks. Flowers, coffee, and my bff = a  good day for the soul.

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