By Rick Houser –
All my life I have wondered to myself just why the earth becomes colorless, cold, and stark in winter. Just why after all the trees had just turned so brilliant in the splendor of their colors did the world have to become a black and white habitat? Maybe I have finally stumbled upon an answer I can accept.
That answer is so when as winter ends and spring nears our planet begins warming up and color begins its’ return, albeit ever so gradually. When we get temperatures in a warming trend and our days slowly become longer we can see the first signs that the time of year I dislike the most is headed to its end. From my earliest recollections and even to this day the signs are visible and there for all to see. One just has to look very close.
When the crocus pops through the ground, time is brief until a colorful bloom is seen. If one is lucky a hyacinth probably is near and all you have to do to find it is sniff the air as the hyacinth gives off a perfumed fragrance almost impossible to ignore and its bloom is so pretty to see also along with the crocus.
Along with these plants is also the pussy willow tree that might well be the first part of Mother Nature to bud out and fill with white buds from head to toe. Although not the prettiest bloom on display, there has always been something about them that draws us into appreciating their efforts in pleasing our eyes. I know as a little boy we would cut several branches from the pussy willow and put them on display in a quart mason jar and if left in the sun long enough the cuttings would begin sprouting new roots allowing me to have new sets to plant. This worked as a nice present for my Mom and a science project for me and more future plumage in our yard. A win win for the entire family you might say.
In the early blooming foliage there was one more that I still have in my yard and if I think of it I still will cut some of the blooms and take them to my wife as a surprise. That is the blooms from the Forsythia bush, a shrub that prolifically produces bright yellow blooms for two to almost three weeks. These also will, if conditions are good, sprout new roots giving you new sets for your yard. Now the good thing about the Forsythia is no matter how bad a gardener you might be or how hard you try to kill this shrub, I feel very safe in saying it can’t be done. I have tried both ways and have failed.
I’m sure there might be some more early bloomers that arrive before the Red Bud and the dogwood but since I can’t recall them I will continue to attempt making my point. In late February or early March our world begins its slow movement toward spring which I personally feel is the prettiest time of the year. As the colors return into our daily lives we all begin to awaken and mentally we become more alive and begin looking and waiting for more of spring to appear. The world stuns us as it moves from colorless to Mother Nature’s gradual painting all around us.
Looking back I remember when plants such as the Forsythia bloomed and I would be at my grandmother’s house and she would see to it that she picked a big handful of them for me to take back home to give to my Mom. Whenever I was at Grandma’s house she always helped me pick a bouquet of flowers that were in bloom at the time for me to take to Mom. (I think a bunch of flowers would help me get out of any trouble I might be in and that was usually the case.)
The first of every spring I looked forward to taking flowers to my Mom who always seemed to be very glad I had thought to do this for her. Something as simple as a handful of blooms can and did become a habit I seemed to form and to a smaller degree I still have. When blooms appear I will often pick a couple and take into the kitchen for my wife. Now that I am thinking about it I probably should pick them for my wife more since hot water might still be where my feet end up quite often.
Along the way I have taught my daughter and son to pick flowers for their Mom. Anything from roses to wild flowers is always appreciated. Even my two oldest grandsons have helped me pick some blooms to take to their Mimi and their Mom. One is never too young to learn that the colorful beauty that Mother Nature has blessed us with can and is appreciated by all.
Just how much extra time does it take to gather the splendors that awaken us when the world becomes alive again? With the blooming comes the promise that spring will not be far behind and it is time prepare yourself to enjoy all that is ahead for each and every one of us. I know I am more than over the Christmas holidays and the Super Bowl and even President’s Day. Maybe I will find some pansies and plant them in our old wheelbarrow to speed up the transition from the dead of winter to the pleasant days of spring and then enjoy them as I wait for Easter.
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.