Springtime Growth

5 05 2013

a href=”https://travelgrrrls.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/polar-bear.png”>polar bearLast weekend, as the polar bear cubs came out of hibernation, and the flowers began filling the air with sweet smells, I loaded up the car with my wife and our ‘son,’ and we headed down to the Toledo Zoo. It wasn’t exactly a warm spring day, but the sun shone strong enough to make it a pleasant day to be walking around outside in our warm coats and comfortable shoes.

On the way there, we passed by a magical scene on the side of the highway. “Bank,” I asked, “Do you know what tree buds are?” He did not, as I suspected. He had arrived in fall, and we watched him enjoy the wonders of the changing leaf colors, and the seasonal loss of foliage as winter grew near. We all suffered through the cold, dark months with barren trees displaying ghostly despair. Now, it is time for the rebirth.

I explained that this is one of the true pleasures of living someplace where there is winter. Although we suffer for a few months, the weather is warming and, much like the animals at the zoo, the plants and trees are coming to life once more.

We squinted our eyes at the distant branches, a blur along the side of the road. “See,” I exclaimed, “some of the trees look a little bit red now, because they are starting to grow buds of red maple leaves. Others look like they have green fuzz because they have tiny, baby leaves sprouting from the tips of the branches!” He sounded curious, but asked me to show him once we stopped and could get closer.

When we arrived at the zoo, there was nary a soul to be seen. It’s still too early in the season, and it was only 50 degrees that day. We loaded up with granola bars and water bottles and headed to the entrance. Along the way, I stopped to show Bank what I was talking about. There, on nearly every branch we passed, were tiny little buds, like parcels from the future. If you look closely, you can see the formations of microscopic leaf formations, curled up in a protective huddle, like a litter of kittens a few hours old. english oak tree bud<

It’s amazing to behold. As I watched through Bank’s eyes, I saw again the miracles before us. This seasonal emergence that will quickly grow and unfurl into complex, graceful photosynthesizers!

white blossom streetEach day after that, as we walk through our yard or down our streets, we look closely to see how quickly they change and develop. Our trees mature and strengthen. Delicate blossoms now appear everywhere- cherries, apples, redbuds- layering our barren streets with rich hues of pinks and whites and even yellows! Some streets are lined with nothing but white flowering trees, a comical homage to the (now distant) snow-laced landscape. I cherish each day that they grace us with their beauty, knowing that the blossoms will soon wither and disappear, an ephemeral wisp of springtime.

Knowing that the buds beget leaves, that the blossoms become delicious fruit for us to enjoy, these pieces of information make me appreciate the current state even more, and I was glad to share this insight with our Thai son. Where he comes from, there is no winter. The trees never lose their leaves. They do not celebrate a rebirth in spring, but instead enjoy water festivals, as the rainy season begins to replenish their hot, dry ‘winter.’ redbud

Our springtime is a special gift, and one that I am very proud to share with our son. He will soon leave us for Thailand, once the school year ends in June. He will return to Thailand in the heat of summer, a humid, 90+ degree daily norm. I hope that he cherishes this experience of spring, and that each new plant growth will remind him of Michigan.

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