In a Super Bloom

Posted on April 5, 2023

Field of hundreds of orange poppy flowers, with a blue sky and wispy clouds on the horizon.

Today’s Buzz is by Cassie Johnson, Police Operational Support Director for the Scottsdale Police Department. Follow Cassie on LinkedIn and Twitter

What I’m reading: I’ve progressed to Book 10 of Wheel of Time 

A hobby I enjoy: Photography – all pictures in this Buzz are my own

What I’m listening to: The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle


Spring has sprung in the Sonoran Desert! Which is great, because summer is apparently arriving next week, but that’s life in the sunshine, and I’m ready for it. So, to soak up and enjoy every fleeting moment of this season, I adventured out into the desert this past weekend to not only enjoy the sunshine, but to find the wildflowers. As you may hear or see (or experience for yourself!), some years you can find yourself in the midst of a Super Bloom. Thanks to a super rainy winter in the desert and the perfect conditions for dormant seeds, a Super Bloom is a phenomenon that results in millions of flowers blooming in stunning pockets of color. I am not a scientist, so that is the extent of what I can explain, but Science Friday offers a fun little activity if you’re intrigued and want to know more! The last time I saw a Super Bloom in person was 2019. We ventured a few hours outside of the Phoenix metro area, and suddenly we were on a hill in the midst of millions of poppies.

Field with hundreds of orange poppy flowers, with a blue sky and wispy clouds on the horizon.

In the Spring of 2021, we ventured out to the same part of the state to see wildflowers,Small clump of orange poppy flowers out of a sidewalk crack, with buildings and a sign with an arrow pointing right and the words "antiques district" in the background. and much to our dismay, we found one lonely little clump of flowers that was holding on strong…in town, growing out of the sidewalk. Not only did we find those rare flowers, but it also snowed on our way back to the Valley of the Sun, and while there is a message about resilience in there, we’ll save that topic for another Buzz.

We’ve had an exceptionally rainy season this winter (we needed it), and it provided exceptional conditions for what I have been hoping would be another season of super blooms. So, we once again got in the car for a journey that we hoped would lead to another sea of yellow in the desert. And my goodness, we were not disappointed! It may have been more flowers than in 2019, and it’s hard for these photos to do justice to the sea of golds, purples, pinks, and white that awaited us in the desert. 

Close-up of hundreds of orange poppy flowers, with blue sky visible on the horizon.

In case you’re wondering, this isn’t a Buzz about flowers; it has a point that connects to our professional realities. As I was out this weekend to enjoy what the desert gifted us, I was reminded of a thread in the panel discussion at the #ELGL2022 Analyst Academy. For the sake of brevity I’m going to combine two of the panel questions: “When is one ready for the next step in their professional development?” and “How does one balance work and life?” 

And the answer to both is wildflowers in a super bloom. The conditions have to be just right…but the groundwork (…get it, it’s a soil joke) is prepared through the tasks and the work that you do every single day. The flowers are there, living their lives and creating a foundation. But when the right conditions appear, the day-to-day process and perseverance can lead to a season of abundance. Seasons of abundance may not come every year, and if they did…we might not appreciate them in the same way. So some seasons you may be the lone clump of poppies, hanging on in the snow hoping for a ray of sunshine, but like the resilient poppy, you still carry on, focused on your purpose. 

At times, you may feel like you aren’t working to your full potential, or you may feel like your labor covers the hillside rather than its fruits that would show brilliantly for miles and miles. We always have choices. In those moments, you can weigh all options, but sometimes it is more about the conditions than the location. Sometimes we need to work the soil, tend our own garden, and find what I call the “work extracurriculars” to provide that flourish of color. Join a professional organization, put your name into the writing rotation, seek a board position for something you are passionate about, join a team in your community that causes you to stretch a little beyond your norm.  

Times may also come when you feel like you are out of balance, and during that season of your life, one area might require more attention than another. If so…tend to that part of your life. Communicate with those in the other parts of your work life. Let them know if you’re extended too far and need to shift your focus for a moment, a season, to come back refreshed to a place where you can handle both a little easier. Celebrate the blossoms.

In the end, Super Bloom seasons aren’t always a guarantee, and when they do come, make sure you recognize them and take the time to get out and smell the flowers! 


And just because they are both so beautiful, here is the hillside during Super Bloom 2019:

Desert field with a cactus in the middle, in the distance, and thousands of orange poppy flowers, with a blue sky on the horizon.

And Super Bloom 2023:

Desert hillside with a cactus in the distance, and ground covered with thousands of orange poppy flowers. The sky is blue on the horizon.


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