It seems the rain of late April has given us just what it has always promised: May flowers. It is dazzling the amount of flowers that are blooming right now, even in my yard alone. The lilacs, both purple and white, and the lily of the valley scent the breeze so that all you have to do is walk outside and breathe deeply, and you know its spring. There is the subtle pink fringe and yellow eye of the daisy fleabane happily living in the crack of the cement porch stairs. The dogwood across the road is still creamy white, even as the green of encroaching leaves of neighboring trees slowly closes in on it. Far off, through a break in the trees on my neighbor’s lawn, is a distractingly deep magenta azalea.
There are the carpets of purple deadnettle and henbit that look like someone took a paintbrush to the grass. The light pink-lavender of wild geraniums dot the low understory. The bright yellow of dandelions stand next to their “wish” seed stage, catching the low evening or morning sun. The buttercups are now dotting the lawns by the pond; they close in the evening and don’t open up until the sun hits them. Underneath the leggy stems of the buttercups is yet another tiny yellow flower blanketing the ground, the barren strawberry.
There’s a whole road that seems to have a floating mist of palest blue hugging the ground and wrapping around the trunks of trees. It’s a sea of forget-me-nots, and I try to visit it every year. Along the edge of the road, they are interspersed with deep indigo bugle weed.
The quince trees this year are an enthusiastic riot of pale shell pink, and if you inspect closer you will see that their rose-like blossoms have detailed veins running through their petals. They also seem to close a bit at night–a behavior that is known as nyctinasty, what a great word!–at least in the beginning of their bloom time. Their flowers start tightly wrapped just like rose buds and end completely stretched out and unfurled. I am amazed each time I walk by them, how profuse and lush they are this year. All of the fruit trees seemed to blossom thickly this year, and I see signs of nascent fruit beginning. All signs point to a good year for fruit, but it’s a long way off until fall. Anything can, and will, happen.
I am savoring all this varied beauty in preparation for the long days of summer that loom ahead. Summer, much like winter, can feel endless and not in the good way. Its green growth becomes stifling and oppressive, like the dismal gray and white of winter. It makes me realize how essential these fleeting bits of beauty are–at a time when we use that word a lot. What is essential? Why are things beautiful, and why do we think they are beautiful? I’m pretty sure we couldn’t live without these small, temporary bits of beauty, even if we are not outwardly noticing them. As is the case with so many essential things in life.