Spring has become my favorite season. It’s the flowering trees that dazzle me. Those first blossoms of cherry, dogwood, and redbud make me want to run and skip – even though my running and skipping days are long behind me. Regardless of age, those flowering trees still manage to blossom in awesome contrast to the bare-branched winters. We turned the corner from winter to spring this past week here in Pittsburgh. March is such a tease with her hint of spring. T.S. Eliot got it wrong; March is the cruelest month – at least in western Pennsylvania. In March, the trees are still bare and the days are still gray and short on sunlight. Even when spring flowers manage to push up and bud, they usually end up being snuffed out by frost or a late snow. But with April, it’s warm enough to open the windows wide to fresh air and birdsong. I’m already anticipating afternoons in my “summer office” – also known as the back porch.
The view from my summer office will be a little different this year. The maple tree that shaded much of the backyard is gone. It had become hollow and unstable, so last fall we finally had it cut down after several seasons of delaying that act. We were sad to lose the tree, but with the heavy record-setting snowfall in February we were glad we didn’t have to worry about the tree crashing down under the burden. That snow essentially shut down the city for several days, and many trees in the area came down under the weight of snow and ice. Mammoth icicles were so impressive that I spent an afternoon out photographing them on houses. Those icicles did a lot of damage in the neighborhood, pulling down aluminum awnings and roof gutters. The worst damage we suffered was borne by my angel garden statue, which I’d forgotten to store away for the winter. She took a direct hit, decapitated by a falling icicle. “Wow,” I said to my husband as I looked out at where her head had come to rest about a foot from her toppled body, “this is way too metaphorical for me. Usually they only lose a wing.”
We kept watch on the huge ice dams that had formed in our roof gutters, the long icicles too thick to knock down or break off. We took to looking up before stepping outside. Every day or so we’d hear a huge crash as sheets of ice suddenly let go and fell into the yard and driveway. I tried to remember which book I’d read where an icicle had been used by an angel as a means of settling a score with a villain. Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones? Abby Frucht’s Polly’s Ghost? I couldn’t remember; it had been too long since I’d read it. I kept my gaze on the icicles.
A few days after my angel lost her head, she appeared on Kevin’s workbench in the garage where a big clamp held her glued-on head in place. It turned out that one of her wings was damaged as well, but after a little superglue and some recovery time on the workbench she’s now back on duty watching over the flowerbeds where hosta and ferns are sending up new shoots.
Things looked incredibly bare after the maple was gone – exposed and open. We planted a white birch and a dogwood in its place. Both trees made it through the winter. I’m not sure if the dogwood will bloom this first season, but I’m hopeful. There are buds on it, but whether they’re leaf or flower buds remains to be seen.
It’s all different this spring – new trees, different light. The flowers will be different, too, since the backyard flowerbeds will be in full sun instead of deep shade. We’ll plant zinnias and have colorful cutting flowers all summer long, just like the zinnias my grandfather filled his backyard with and my parents grew in their front garden which the driveway circled around.
Summer evenings are the best time. When the day’s work is done, the summer office turns into the summer dining room where we watch the shadows deepen at sunset while we eat our evening meal. Birds come to the feeders and sometimes stop for a little splash in the water garden. The leaves on our new trees will shimmer and briefly become translucent, back lit by the sun before it dips below our horizon line.
Spring is finally here and summer stretches out ahead of us like a promise. I feel rejuvenated – the world opening up to me again after the dormant winter. The summer office is now open; stories yet to be written, in bud and ready to blossom.
Photo credits: Photographs copyright by Dory Adams, all rights reserved
Around the Blogosphere
I’ve been a member of She Writes, an online community of women writers, since it began last June. One of the first groups I joined there was “Bloggers: Let’s Make it Work!” which was started by Laura Didyk. There are now nearly 8000 members at She Writes, and last week the 1000th member joined our blogger group. Julie Jeffs celebrates that milestone with her post “How Many Bloggers Does It Take . . .” in which Laura shares memories of this first year, including mention of me as the first member to join the blogger group.
Edd Fuller is the winner of last week’s contest for two free passes to the Carnegie Museum of Art. Passes are courtesy of Pittsburgh Budget Cars, a company that deals in used cars in Pittsburgh.