O my God, experiencing a nonexistent spring, I wonder — are these fuzzy yellow things snowflakes in disguise? But no, they’re dandelions! I usually don’t welcome them to my yard. But this year, OMG, thank You for each and every one!
Me? I might wow observers, but for different reasons: my ratty bathrobe and jammies. What else would you expect of a grandma writer juggling Christmas?
What’s that? Your Creator made you to be strictly decorative?
I told my husband a similar story. A little tired of my ratty bathrobe, he didn’t think so.
However, when Dr. Joel Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, met your ancestors in 1828, he brought several home. Before long, your forbearers became wildly popular.
Poinsie, how did you become an important floral symbol of Christmas? Not that the Bethlehem stable was landscaped with holly or mistletoe. Jesus probably didn’t even have a Christmas tree.
Does it make sense, though, that Americans celebrate a winter holiday with a tropical plant that hates the cold more than Midwestern snowbirds? If you had your choice, Poinsie, would you have stayed in Mexico, where you and your kin reach tree size?
I thought so. For a long time, you’ve lived out of your comfort zone. Still, you strut your colorful stuff every Christmas and brighten the holiday for us all.
Until one minute after midnight, December 26, when you wilt a little. A lot, actually.
Admittedly, we all wilt, and wrinkles eventually find us. But after one grand entrance during Christmas, you begin making demands. If I cherish any notion that you will bloom again, the light must be just so. The temperatures must be just so. At night, you like to be moved to a cooler area. I must ensure your beauty sleep in complete darkness from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. from October through December. Even headlights shining through shades can disturb your blooming.
You do remember, don’t you, Poinsie, why I keep pet plants instead of pet animals? Let me remind you: because plants don’t bark or lick. And they’re easier to care for.
I used to coddle fussy poinsettias. I lined windows with scraggly, leaf-shedding plants. I watered and fed. I plucked. I pampered. I encouraged.
But they wilted all the more
Finally, I tossed them all out behind the garage. Every. Single. One.
Now don’t you think you could act a little less fussy?
What do you mean, I could be less demanding, too? I don’t ask for much. Just my favorite snowman coffee mug with my brand of coffee. My solo bathroom. My schedule. My music. My hot-food fetish fulfilled, though I have to re-microwave my plate three times during supper.
Poinsie, you’re saying I should demand less?
Now, you’re just meddling. Flowers should be seen and not heard.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you had a heart-to-heart with a plant lately? Did it mess with your life, too?
This spring, God has outdone Himself. Lush lilacs, like grape clusters, decorate bushes. Redbuds flaunt finery like skinny little girls wearing new Sunday dresses. Pear, crabapple, and locust trees grace the landscape like young girls on prom night.
I yearn for the trees’ beauty and fragrance the way some crave the first steak on a grill.
Not surprising, as my parents, tree huggers long before the concept became popular, adored flowering trees. Gradually, we children realized that most families’ Sunday afternoon drives did not achieve action movie status.
MOM: Ooooh, lovely dogwoods.
DAD: Aaaah, those lilacs smell wonderful. Roll down your windows.
KID #1: Shouldn’t you keep both hands on the wheel?
KID #2: How about one?
MOM: I’m holding the road. Mmmm. Isn’t God good?
KID #3: But no one’s watching the road!
KID #4: Let us pray.
ALL KIDS: Look out! (Dive for the floor.)
DAD: What’s your problem? I missed that guy.
KID #5: Um, Dad … we missed the bridge. We’re floating — sort of —
MOM: But look at those crabapples!
I succumbed to the habit, passing it on to my small children. Their pursuit of blooming beauty resembled search-and-destroy missions. When their quests expanded to others’ yards, I intervened.
“But,” I told them, “if branches hang over sidewalks, you may smell them, if you’re careful. That’s just borrowing.”
Chubby hands grasped behind their backs, they sniffed away.
I followed their good example. Besides, borrowing kept me out of trouble, too.
Our next home’s trees seemed under a curse, succumbing to lightning and disease. One of two peach trees went into a coma and never recovered.
Having witnessed her partner’s demise, the surviving peach tree eyed us with trepidation. Thankfully, Penelope, as I named her, greeted me at my kitchen window the following spring, wearing clouds of delicate salmon-colored blossoms.
We planted a redbud and two lilacs. Their first spring, they wowed us. However, the following year, they too succumbed to the curse.
I wandered the streets … and borrowed past my limit.
My husband wasn’t keen about calls from the police, so we planted a crabapple and a pear that flourished. A generous friend gave us rose of Sharon starts.
I will try not to run you down. Or miss bridges.
But you won’t mind if I borrow your trees on the way, will you?
Most people stay far too busy during spring to pause and practice their God-given powers of observation. Although I, too, keep an encyclopedia-sized to-do list, I decided to sacrifice the time, pour myself a cup of coffee and ponder spring stuff:
Perhaps it’s time to rouse myself from my profound cogitations and determine if this year’s cone will uphold the standard.
No weightier spring pursuit than that.
What’s your favorite spring stuff?