Thursday, May 7, 2009

Change: what do we expect, anyway?

We had an unusually mild late winter here in Denver, with February and March temperatures regularly 10 to 15 degrees above the average for the date.

In fact, the warmth fooled lots of our beloved trees and bushes to think it was time to go, when it was not. Not at all.

Our crabapple is the centerpiece of the front yard, a tree planted by the only prior owner of our home, a man who loved that tree. It is now about 45 years old, and it has seen its share of challenges. We had massive snows several times in the last five years, one of which hit while the tree had much of its foliage still on its branches. It lost its crown--the top-most portion of a tree--that year, and in the years since, it has recovered pretty well, but as with any living thing in the later portion of its lifespan, the recovery has been less than total. Still, the tree normally puts on her crinoline every spring and parades to the ball, a vision in pink.

We planted a forsythia in the narrow grass border between our driveway and our neighbor's a few years back. Each year, the bush has become more effusive, waving longer and more-plentiful limbs in ever-more-dramatic patterns.

This year, both the crabapple and the forsythia were set up and then ambushed.

After the early warmth convinced the two to bud, we had a very cold couple of days and a foot of snow. The snow actually protected the only-barely-awake garden perennials, but the forsythia flowers and the crabapple buds were quietly terminated.

This is the first year since we moved in ten years ago that we have not been blessed with the crabapple show. The forsythia is not nearly as old, but it has never been so badly treated, either.

Of course, plants do exactly as I described the determined little pansy volunteer doing last year: they start with whatever the current situation presents to them, and move on from there.

The photos accompanying today's post are from this year, carefully taken shots to show a couple of the forsythia's very, very, sadly very small number of brilliant yellow flowers. In fact, you can see the green leaves trying to crowd out the few flowers which were opening so late that the frost didn't get them.

And, because I wanted to see what she looked like in her prime, here is an undated (of course! a lady never reveals her age) shot of the crabapple from seasons past (with a supporting role from the forsythia).

There's no big lesson today, just an observation. Change is not an aspect we can choose or decline, but central to being alive. Expectations, though, are completely within our control. When we expect the same as we have seen before, reality can seem harsh and cruel. When we open our eyes to what is and harbor few expectations, though, change can feel refreshing, new, exciting, and invigorating.

I'll still be looking for the show from the crabapple next spring, even as I try to be more tolerant of nature's vagaries.


Lynilu said...

You all did have an extra long and white winter, didn't you? One thing about it is that it makes you appreciate spring all the more.

Those pictures are beautiful. I love the return of color with Spring. I noticed today as I drove home from town how greed the trees are. A week ago they were slightly green with tiny leaves. It is always good to see winter's end, isn't it?

Rick Hamrick said...

Lynilu--it was the sudden and abrupt change from mild to foot-deep which fooled us!

I hope your many wheelbarrow-loads of soil are now where you want them to be.

Thanks for your visit and comment.

Sylvain said...

Great pictures Rick. Looks like quite a show. Too bad it was dampened a bit.
These last few weeks, when everything is popping and flowering here, are among my favorite weeks of the year. Regrettably, I spent most of it in the hospital and missed much of the magic. But it's comforting to know that the magic still happens whether we are there to see it or not, and that it will happen again and be just a little different every time. And having missed the early parts, I am that much more appreciative of whats to come.

Rick Hamrick said...

Syl--it's good to hear that Spring is coming, too, to the north of us, and that you are now out of the hospital.

I was just at Kelly's blog, so I saw that she and you had been out birding, and with some success.

Thanks for stopping by, Syl!