Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Two Weeks

Northeast Ohio has finally decided to join the rest of the World and welcome Spring into its cold, frosty bosom.  The windows are open to the warming breezes here at the Dept., and I finally allowed Rick to put the snow shovels back into the garage until October when they will be needed once more.  I've used fresh-cut chives more than a couple of times, we have a fine, fine crop of weeds in the pea gravel between the flagstones in the back garden, and the pondfish are swimming around a little less lethargically.

It's about damn time.

On my various errands--many chauffering St. Patsy to her various Medical Necessaries--I am often enthralled by the many glorious flowering trees so many people are privileged to have in their yards.  One oft-travelled route takes me past no less than five towering tulip trees in full bloom, their spent pink and white petals creating a pastel coverlet on the new grass beneath them.  They are incredible. On that same drive is a bonfire of forsythia at the entrance of a pine forest.  It looks as if a half-dozen bushes grew together unfettered by boundaries both upward and beyond.  Blossoming trees froth with pink like bubbles on a strawberry soda, while the terraced elegance of rare dogwoods look serene and aloof. 

When I was a kid, we had a big, gnarled, knotty apple tree in our backyard.  Its branches spread far and wide, and it blossomed heavily every other year.  My father loved that tree.  Every single one of us was photographed up in that tree, from newborn to college.  Grandkids were, too, the ones who were around while Dad was alive.  The apple tree produced a ton of apples, too, but the bugs and birds always got to them before any one of us could.  "Honey, you ought to get some spray and spray that tree," my mom used to say.  My father would look at her like she had told him he should cut the tree down.  He couldn't imagine spraying any sort of pesticide on his tree.  He figured it was perfect the way that it was.  It wasn't there for the apples, anyway.  It was there for its beauty.

When I got a house of my own, I wanted a few things in my yard.  One, I wanted a lilac bush.  Two, I wanted rose bushes.  Three, I wanted a flowering tree.  My lilac bush got a powdery mildew or fungus or something, and little by little, no matter what we did for it, it kept dying back.  My rose bushes just never did well, either, and even my father, The Rose Doctor himself, couldn't get the soil right for them.  And the flowering tree? 

We had two huge silver maple trees on our teeny tiny lot when we first moved here.  One--which we had removed--was pretty much right in front of half of the garage.  The other was in front of our house, on the curb lawn (which I had always called a tree lawn).  There was no space anywhere for a flowering tree.  Many years later, when we redid our backyard, taking out all the grass and landscaping it into a back garden, I told our landscaper that I wanted a flowering tree someplace in the scheme.  "Can't do it,"  Marv said.  "They get too big.  Besides, the only place you have to put one, really, is too close to the pond.  They drop stuff.  Clog up the skimmer.  Make a huge mess."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  I appealed to Rick, who pressed the case to Marv again.  But it was true.  There wasn't any place for a flowering tree.  "Everyone gets all excited and jazzed up about flowering trees," groused Marv.  "It only lasts two weeks. Two weeks.  Then what? Just a tree.  No one thinks about that."

He's right.  No one thinks about the other fifty weeks because they're too busy glorying in those two weeks.  Two weeks of unabashed beauty.  Two weeks of affirmation that yes, winter is not going to last forever, that spring is coming after all.  Two weeks of hope.  Two weeks of remembering that the world has lovely things to share.  Two weeks of appreciating Nature's gifts after a dark and cold winter.  Two weeks of knowing that something simple can still have the power to awe you.  A wonderful two weeks that make me smile, appreciate, and remember.

I miss my father every day although he is with me always.


  1. Anonymous4:36 PM

    I sympathize with your plight. I wanted a weeping willow tree in our backyard for the same sentimental reasons that you wanted a flowering tree. Same response from the landscaper-- can't do, wrong size, will mess up the roots of other trees. So we didn't get one. *sigh*

  2. We used to have two dogwood trees framing our pretty mock-tudor house in spring. When one of them died, I felt bereft, and the landscaper cautioned against replacing it for various reasons. The other is still with us, and is just coming into flower. I have lilacs and forsythia in the back garden, rhododendrons and azaleas in front. It's a lovely riot of color in spring. True, it doesn't last long, but boy, is it worth it!

    I share your memories of childhood flowering trees. We had both a small gnarly apple, and a huge towering cherry. The birds got the fruit, we got the beauty, and I still have the memories.

    (C'mon--you don't really want to leave NEO, do you?)

  3. I'm still trying to recover from the giant stuffed banana with dreadlocks. Really? Really dude? I suspect some sort of fruit salad abuse going on here.

    We have the best of both worlds - the neighbors behind us have a crabapple tree that we can admire & photograph - & they deal with any issues it might cause. We actually have no trees in our yard at all, but I hardly ever notice because all the yards around us have trees.

    We have so enjoyed all the bloomingness this year - it is frivolous & fabulous & brings hope back up to the front of our brains...

  4. Yep, me too! Daffs have popped, red maple in flower, violets scenting the air.
    Blackflies arrived yesterday.
    There's a snake in every garden, right?

  5. Mary G--Oh, the blackflies. I was in Maryland once for blackfly season. How terrible they are! (The yellowjackets are back building a nest under my patio bench. Bastards!)

    Bug--I knew that story would grab a few readers. I warned you all earlier about The Stupid being Out There. I really feel as if the blooms this year are so, so much more stupendous this year. I really do. I can actually feel my jaw drop when I see some of the trees on my drives.

    fauxprof--Oh, yes. We had a cherry tree, too, and it was so tall! I never thought they were supposed to get that tall, but this one did. We never got one single cherry because all the birds got them. That tree was gorgeous too. And the plum trees--they bore golden plums--had lots of flowers as well. And we had two lilacs and a forsythia. Tons of flowers, always. Sigh.

    I know dogwoods are getting decimated by some disease and are becoming almost endangered, isn't that the case? They are so lovely.

    I'd give up NEO in a heartbeat to go someplace with crape myrtle and magnolias. Think of the growing season, too!

    Ally--We had a huge willow in the corner for most of my childhood. One summer, after a particularly wet spring, we had a windstorm. The whole tree simply fell over. Period. Uprooted and fell down. I cried, and I think my father almost did. I'm a sucker for willows with their long, graceful branches. I used to sit under it and you almost couldn't see me. It was a reading spot for me. I'm sorry for you not being able to get a willow. I really am.

  6. Such a poignant ending, Nance, for another wonderful post. Living in the woods, we only get the native flowering trees at the edges; i.e., dogwoods. But they are beautiful. The flowering trees always make me feel alive and happy. We were given a willow tree as a housewarming gift and we planted it near the lake and it still bit the dust. :-(

    Happy Spring, Nance!

  7. I do miss the "bonfire of forsythia" that used to bloom in our yard when we lived in Maryland. I miss the change of seasons. And I really, really miss my dad, who loved the blooms as well did not live to see as many springs as I already have.

    I don't have a yard or garden, so when spring rolls around, I buy fresh flowers to compensate for that. Sort of. Or take walks in places where I can see the darling buds of May.

    Happy Birthday one day early to a rose among the blog gardens. :-)

  8. Ortizzle--You're really something. How do you remember my birthday? Even I forgot about it this year, with so many things going on. You're the best. Thank you so much.

    I'm so sorry that you lost your dear father so early. What a terrible shame. I had lots of feuds with my father, but I never lost my appreciation of the best parts of him. I am so much like him in lots of ways--not all good, I'm afraid--so he is always with me.

    I'm sure that you carry much of your father with you as well. Maybe your startling memory and compassionate thoughtfulness? Thank you again, dear friend.

    Shirley--Your home is situated on such beautiful property. I'll bet that looking through the trees and seeing the new leaves and the lacy dogwoods is inspiring. If you got an assortment of bulbs and just tossed them out there, even if the squirrels buried them for food, most would get forgotten and come up as gorgeous tulips, hyacinth, and daffs next spring. Could you imagine? I'm not really jealous, just so appreciative of the lovely place where you live and I was happy to be able to visit.

    And thank you for the kind words about my post. So nice to see you here.

  9. I have to thank a previous owner of our home for our two flowering dogwoods, one pink, one white. There's some weird bush near them that explodes bright red right beside them. Around the corner is a huge forsythia bush that I have to beat back the rest of the year but right now it is yellow bliss. And under it all, is a carpet of purple violets. Yes, it means we have a week-infested, no actual grass yard. But this time of year is it so beautiful. Eric would love to have a magnolia tree too. I'm game. It is a such a short season, so like you, we drive around and try to take as much in as we can.

  10. When we lived in Philly, I used to marvel at the beautiful weeping cherry trees. I adored them. Haven't seen them here. They probably like water or something like that.

    There's a house down the street with the tiniest little tulip tree, which is against the side of the house. I think of it as a banzai, because they MUST prune it a lot to keep it so small. It's maybe 4 feet tall. It's so delicate, and when it has flower buds coming out, it's sublime. I love that tree.

  11. Really? There was nothing amongst the hundreds of tree types that could go in your yard?

    My parents have a small, flowering magnolia tree that is a smaller variation of the larger, more famous kind. It is beautiful and is only about 15 feet high by 8 feet, nothing too huge.

    I also have a lovely plumeria bush, which can actually grow to tree-like heights when they are around long enough. But I'm thinking your weather is not conducive to growing them.

    As for weather, it is currently 93 degrees, so no such thing as "spring" around these parts.

  12. Gina--No, magnolias and plumerias are a bit dicey for our zone. It gets very cold here, and the cold lasts a long, long time. My back garden is tiny, and the pond is at issue with blossom and seed drop. Trust me. Also at issue is the neighbor behind's black walnut tree. They are very toxic to a lot of plants and trees, so that made it tough to landscape like you would not believe.

    J@jj--I adore those weeping cherries and I wanted a little one in the worst way. But they don't stay little enough. Yes, a lot of flowering trees are pesky that way--they like their water. LOL.

    J.--There is one variety of magnolia that is supposedly okay for our zone, but I'd never take the chance. It's pricey, and not as full and lovely as the classic Southern magnolia. Forsythia are ostentatious, for sure. They are the weed of the spring bushes--out first, rangy growers, and you really cannot kill them. But what a spring delight.


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