Red Buckeye by the Coulee in our Backyard
Like the wild birds;
It's another day.
The spring wind blew my list of things to do
– Greg Brown
….she was born in spring
but I was born too late.....
– Bob Dylan
After putting it off for a week, I decided to go out on 25 February and pull up a bunch of briars that were coming up around our pawpaw (Asimina triloba) and red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) trees next to the coulee in the backyard. To my delight, the local deciduous hollies (Ilex decidua) had just leafed-out, as had the red buckeye; and new leaves were just barely expanding out of their buds on the rough-leaf dogwoods (Cornus drummondii). Spring! Yay!
Funny, when I was younger I used to see weeding (especially briars) as personal penance – you know, like a comparative rooting out of my sins or something. Today, I see weeding as a privelige – a sacrament – another opportunity to get my hands into God. Yes, the real penance, as I see it today, is living in this world that we've created and rather thoughtlessly superimposed over God's world. Not too cool for (supposedly) thinking beings. Ah, but I digress . . .
So, eighteen pounds of weeded briars later, I took a break to drink in the green – what little of it there was, anyway. You take what you can get when you get it, you know? Besides being my second-to-favorite color, green is the very background music – nay, the very anchor of our lives back here in the bottomland hardwoods of south Louisiana. By late January – when ninety-nine percent of your vegetation is deciduous – the freshness of winter has pretty much worn off, and things get to looking bleak . . . an unchanging sea of grays and browns.
Then suddenly, one day in late February, here come the leaves. Whoa! The Promise is renewed, and I didn't have to lift a finger for it to be so! Neither did the bugs who eat those leaves. Neither the birds and lizards who eat the bugs. It is indeed a time for celebration.....Anole lizards flip-flopping from trees to deck rails and what-have-you. Cardinals and mourning doves singing their lungs out and bringing seed gifts to their lady friends. Chickadees wandering around looking for stray hair with which to line their nests (I help them all I can; as do the dogs – unwittingly).
Today – one week later – hackberry (Celtis laevigata), sweetgum (Liquidambar styriciflua) and southern crabapple (Malus angustifolia) have all leafed out. So one can almost say that green has at last balanced out the browns and grays. Almost.
And the blooms! Woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata) carpets the ground back around our main birdbath. Redbud (Cercis canadensis), cherry-laurel (Prunus caroliniana), mayhaw (Crataegus opaca), and little-leaf viburnum (Viburnum obovatum) are all in flower out front. Driving down the blacktop, buttercup (Ranunculus spp.) covers the overgrazed pastures. Yellowtop (Senicio glabellus) fills the littered ditches.
Last night, under the darkness of a nearly-new-moon, out come the first fireflies of what we call “2011”.
The massive spring machine is rolling, never mind that most humans around here barely – if at all – notice it. Good thing it doesn't, like, need our permission or something in order to appear.
Meanwhile, God sees our contrived/superimposed world, falling apart as it is, and goes, “(sigh)....kids....what're ya' gonna do with 'em? I told 'em not to eat that apple!”
Meanwhile, as Bob Dylan has mentioned, life goes on all around us.....
Hooray for spring!