Tuesday, February 24, 2009

That Time of Year Again

It’s easy to tell that Spring is about to explode in Southwest Georgia. First, you notice more traffic on the back country roads as farm machinery rumbles along just after sunrise and the dormant rolling fields are tilled into rich black velvet sheets that drape the countryside.

That’s when it occurs to you that the gnarled old pear trees have gained a little bit of fiery color from the rusty buds of new leaves exploding along the twisted branches. Small white flowers dance in counterpoint to the reds and greens, promising a good fruit harvest in the coming Summer. You might not have noticed it at all because of the nights that are still below freezing, but the fast darting robins flitting in and among the branches drew your attention to it. Cardinals swoop in and out of the camellias, leaving you to wonder if the japonicas have taken flight. The mockingbird has returned to sing in the evenings, sitting high up in the holly tree, knocking the last of the red berries onto the pavement.

Everywhere you look, the world is starting to show signs of renewal. Already the brown lawns are starting to show signs of life again. Redbud trees reveal their dainty purplish flowers against the backdrop of bare limbs. It’s only a matter of time before the azaleas put on their show. In fact, some early bloomers have already started with their pink and fuscia buds. Soon the dogwoods will join the display, as will the pink magnolia, the spirea, and the ever-present roses.

Here in Southwest Georgia, Spring comes with great fanfare, like a Grand Dame parading her plumage slowly down the catwalk for all to see and admire. With measured strides, she gradually assumes her best pose. It takes weeks of preparation for her to reach her pinnacle, then she graciously takes her time accepting the admiration of her adoring public before taking several curtain calls on her way off stage.

That’s one of the things I love the most about living in the True South. Spring is truly a time for celebration. It may even be considered an event in its own right. It is a glorious time of year in which it is still cool enough for sweaters and jackets, yet warm enough to enjoy Iced Tea (always served so sweet that it makes your teeth ache.)

This Spring is particularly special to me. It was on an early Spring morning last year that my little daughter, Beth, was born. I will never forget the drive to the hospital. The whole world looked like it had put on its finest garments to welcome her. Spring was at her peak. Dogwoods, azaleas, more flowers than I could name lined the streets, dropping colorful petals in front of us like adoring throngs of well-wishers. I thought rather fancifully that this corner of the world had become an enchanted garden out of some fairy tale just to welcome my baby into its embrace.

In her honor, I have planted tulips and bulbs in pinks and reds and purples. I check each morning to see if the azaleas outside of her window have popped out in their bright pinks and magentas. I impatiently wait for my roses to bloom, urging them to hurry. You see, last year, I saw this enchanted world through my own jaded eyes. This year, I will see it all for the first time through hers. I can scarcely wait.