At eight years old, I memorized the worn stone pathway of my elementary school’s garden. It swirled up and down, up and down and then up once more. Wild dandelions flourished along the sides and gaps of the path, with little concern over order. Lush bushes of spiky leaves lined the trail, too high to jump over, but low enough to see the other side. I often found myself mesmerized by how vast the garden appeared. I was captivated by the abundance of nature, from the sturdy pomegranate trees all the way down to the flirty wildflowers. The garden’s elegance to my young eyes couldn't be belittled.
My mother knew I loved the earth just as much as she did, when I would spend my days admiring the ladybugs in the wildflowers behind our apartment. The empty lot behind the apartment complex was overgrown with proud wild dandelions that flourished despite the dry terrain. As an impressionable kid, I was delighted to find a piece of my favorite garden growing in my own backyard and couldn't help but to tenderly look at the dainty yellow flowers.
Eventually, dandelion inspections became routine. I would awkwardly race the rocky path around the apartment complex to study the growing flowers, naively wondering if the rocky dry soil of the lot would lend itself to growing strong pomegranate trees or spiky bushes for my very own pathway. Of course, this never happened, but as a kid, the possibilities were limitless.
From my initial interest in wildflowers grew a deeper relationship to nature. My fascination also taught me what trust truly is. Trust was always about the connection with others around me. It was defined by the confidence and comfort I found in others, including in nature’s resilience. I can trust that the sun’s beams of sunlight will shine the next day, and I can trust in wild dandelions’ stubborn nature to grow anywhere. Looking back, what I have come to trust the most goes beyond the emotional connection between loved ones and extends to loved places. I can love a piece of land—a part of nature—just as strongly as I can people. The resilience in nature as a whole is something I can trust. When inspected closer, wildflowers are stronger than their fragile appearance suggests.
The precious spaces of wilderness from childhood tenderly remind me of finding trust in the tiniest life. Despite the silliness of how my connection with wildflowers bloomed, I can’t help but be comforted by wild dandelions now. To me they were always winking and would appear along my path no matter where I was going. As a giddy kid, I relished the presence of wilderness around me and trusted that my favorite wildflower would make her appearance.
Mother Nature flourishes in every space she can claim as she slowly takes back areas one dandelion at a time. But sometimes a little help can encourage the state of the wilderness around us. As an admirer of nature, I feel a sense of duty to learn about ways to preserve the landscape around all of us. I hope I can do more than just admire—I want to work to protect public lands for fellow nature-lovers.
For me, activism starts at home. I’m familiar with feeling overwhelmed by the grand scale of an issue, but addressing the issues within our local community makes a difference. We can create change simply by striving towards a sustainable lifestyle and encouraging others to take similar steps. Joining my college’s Student Sustainability Council allows me to fight for a greener campus and create a significant impact through knowledge and understanding. I want to protect my home and preserve the landscape for the next generation of wildflower admirers.
Mi flor silvestre
Terca y dulce eres
En mi gran jardín
Jen Molina is an undergraduate freshman at University of Nevada Las Vegas who seeks to inspire, collaborate, and create the actions that will impact tomorrow. As an admirer of nature, Jen promotes sustainability through her most powerful tool, art. Whether that be with a brush on a canvas or her trusty laptop, she is passionate about inspiring others from her painting and writing. She hopes to join the activism within her generation and participate in mindful conversations about environmental issues, mental health, and preserving public lands. In her free time you can find her wielding a pencil in one hand with paint smudges on her jeans or simply stopping by to admire the flowers.