In spring, most people are overeager to get outside and enjoy the warm weather. So many changes are happening around them as the landscape comes back to life. And it's quite intoxicating.
People smile more freely. There is a definite and extra bounce to everyone's step. All too quickly, they break out the shorts, t-shirts, tank tops and sunglasses. They talk at length about their first chance to fire up the grill and their initial family meal outdoors. My neighbors even race to see who can be the first to mow their lawn. It's quite refreshing … and addictive.
But the changes are happening so quickly that few stop and just observe long enough to catch the tiniest and most subtle transformations.
Recently, I was sitting in the backyard watching the buds erupt on my trees. They are so different compared to the leaves you'll see all summer long.
It all starts with gray and brown, barren, seemingly lifeless trees. The buds are there in dormant, unnoticeable bumps. Then the sun starts shining and the weather warms. And one day - this day to be specific - as the sun sets I notice tiny lemon-lime shimmers sparkling along branches on a buckeye tree. They call me near. The tiny teardrop-shaped buds bust out of their shells, as if they are dancing in the sun and wind shouting, "We're free, we're free." I stand staring at them for quite some time and then all of a sudden feel I'm not alone.
I look left and right and up and down and tiny glints and glimmers come from every tree in my yard.
Even after a long day of work, it energizes me. I rush from tree to tree. And, sure enough, life is erupting from each one.
Most flower buds emerge before leaves emerge while others do it the other way around, but all of them flower. Some are not at all like your typical showy tulip, rose or daisy flower, which is why I think it goes unnoticed. Red and silver maples have reddish-brown, fat buds with pointed tips that burst into red and yellow puffs. Elms also push hairy green flowers out of buds before leaves appear. But wild cherry trees do it in reverse.
The way buds grow is also so different on each tree. Red oak buds explode in clusters at the ends of branches. Beech buds are cigar-shaped. Some hickory buds are yellow.
All buds are covered with scales - actually small, modified leaves. They serve as shields during the winter.
Tree buds are so much like us. Hidden and curled inward under parkas and wrapped up in our own shells as scarves, hats and mittens. Then one day we hang these coverings all back in our closets and burst free with hops and skips.
As you emerge from your own winter shell, take a minute to sit back and enjoy the show.
Of course a patio chair and a little sun tea would make it just that much more comfortable.
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