The wind settled, and I did not have rehearsal. Tasks awaited my attention, but instead I put hat on head, took up my walking cane, and went forth into the evening. Along with a goodly number of other people. It was spring, and comfortable out, with no wind and a minimum of dust.
This has been a good year for Bradford pear blooms. All the pears peaked at the same time, something unusual for this area, and clouds of white hovered along the streets or around houses. In the evening light, the globes and mounds of white floated over the ground like summer puffies afraid of heights. Soon they will begin to send blizzards and showers of white petals onto the yards and passing strollers, but that evening, the flowers clung tight to the branches, almost glowing a little in the evening light. The distinctive scent, not entirely pleasant but certainly noticeable, grew and faded as I walked past each tree or row of trees.
The redbud trees bloomed earlier, and had begun to fade, but the plums and crab-apples seemed to be half-way to peak. Dark purple and purple-red flowers appeared as if scattered by an enchanter along gnarled black twigs and branches. Out of nothing – flowers. “Let there be petals” and there were petals, to misquote Genesis. I can see why the Japanese and others have festivals around the blooming of the trees, because they seem to produce life from barrenness. There are fewer plums and crab-apples than pears in my neighborhood. An infestation of borers, and age, took their toll on the plums and crab-apples a few years ago, and the younger trees have not really gotten large and craggy yet. Far more white caught the eye than did red or purple.
The last freeze, in theory, will come around April eighteen. This means that the wisteria and forsythia are courting danger if they bloom early, and they have been caught before. Two years ago a very hard freeze and snow hammered the wisteria, and it seemed as if two of the neighborhood collection had succumbed. No, they straggled back, determined to prove that they can survive out here, if not thrive. The “tree wisterias” that I pass have a very few, somewhat tentative blooms, but lots of catkins that hint at a large bloom for Easter. I hope they make it. The forsythia is warming up, and tried to attack me with yellow-dotted withies as I passed. It needs a bit of a haircut, but later, after it blooms. It looks like a chest-high, brown pompom with a few yellow spots. By Friday it should be in full bloom. Perhaps.
The hawthorn tree, however, was having none of it. It knows better. The hawthorn has a few buds, but stands in thorny determination to remain bare until all danger has passed. It got hit hard in 2011, when we had an April cold snap that dropped temperatures to 24 with screaming north winds and a dewpoint of -5. The roses turned into rose-jerky, they dried out so badly. The hawthorn lost all of its leaves. Never again. It does not bud out anymore until very, very late in April or even early May.
The tulips and daffodils were at peak as I strolled. Some Daffodils in especially warm and sunny places had already started to fade, after an early start. There are traditional King Alfred daffodils, but also a number of odds-and-ruffles. Small or tall, white or orange or yellow, they announce the arrival of spring, even if gardeners have to hurry out and brush the snow off of them.
The air smelled soft, no dusty but not crisp or moist, either. No unusual scents teased my nose. No one was doing laundry, or grilling, or running the smoker. That will be next week, with Easter, and for some, a three or four day weekend. No, it was just a lovely evening full of playing kids, dogs being walked, and people just jogging or strolling.