Thursday, May 28, 2009

Spring Back, Fall Forward

We had a late, wet, very cool spring this year in Oklahoma - and the blooming things, although showing up a tad tardy, went wild. In New Mexico, I could never grow this state flower - gone too often I was to keep it wet enough to survive to bloom. But in my little Oklahoma garden - blue flax ruled for a couple of weeks - a colorful homage to my home away from home.

A slow economy has its small rewards - and I found myself home for once at the same time the bleeding hearts were blooming. Life contemplated in the company of a bush full of bleeding heart blooms seems flushed with promise.

The hostas rise up to fill in the shady spots - slowly unfurling their painted leaves with the promise of spiky hummingbird goodness later in the summer.

A fistful of wild flower seeds planted last spring come to life a year late - exploding in the cool, damp weather with colorful mysteries.

And then of course, the pièce de résistance of spring -- the little dogwood I planted my first fall that veteran Oklahoma gardeners said would never bloom in my city backyard - blooms again for the second year in a row. It's a happy little tree, blocked from the Oklahoma wind and bursting with bloom in the fleeting understory sunshine that comes before the pecan and oak trees above it leaf out.

These are the things I marveled in the weeks before heading off for the New River Birding and Nature Festival in West Virginia. This is the beauty of spring that I always long for in the seemingly endless, cold winter months. And these spring flowers held my attention rapt as I packed for three weeks of work in Argentina. Forgetting, for a moment, what happens when one travels far enough south of the equator in springtime...

Fall is exactly what happens when one ventures 34 degrees south of the equator in early May.

Disconcerting to say the least. My head spun like a top -- but rotating counter clockwise, of course, as things do below the equator. The feeling of having lost summer was overwhelming. It all felt a little Rip Van Winkleish - as if waking up from a short nap to discover the loss of time and a cherished season.

These brilliant red cypress leaves could not for a moment assuage the feeling of having lost the rest of spring and all of summer.

In no time at all, golden-flamed leaves consumed the part of my brain that triggers appetite and I found myself with a feeble hankering for turkey and cranberries and sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Traitor! screamed the part of brain still holding on to the once not so distant promise of sweet corn on the cob, steaks on the grill, strawberry shortcake and watermelon slices.

Oak trees

and sweet gum trees were in on the ruse

on this path that leads to winter.

I want no part of it! Get me out of here.

I want to spring back!!!
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