About a month ago mounds of hardened snow still covered parts of the landscape and the bare tree branches shivered in a much colder wind. The Northeast United States waited and waited. Even for a professed winter lover, spring’s warmth and expected bursting forth felt long overdue. Some signs were there, in lengthening daylight, the return of some migrants outside my window with their birdsong before dawn, and the quickening ice melt
But this past two weeks the breakthrough finally arrived in this part of the Northeast. On a landscape dominated by late winter brown and gray, plumes of bright color — light green, bright yellow, and creamy white — appeared, so welcome. Finally, the buds had opened, and the blossoms and flowers of the new season arrived, the yearly miracle before our eyes.
Like others in the natural world, we are a species of rituals, of many types. Some fast to honor particular holy days each year or hold festivals to mark a natural occurrence. Some are sure to see the Rockettes or the Rockefeller Center tree each Christmas season in New York. Others venture to Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania annually to view the hawks during their autumn migration. The time of buds bursting and blossoms appearing is my Christmastime. It’s one of rituals, including walks along certain pathways and visits to particular trees each year. I have a date with them, only they hold the timing.
Over a lifetime, the annual showing of spring blossoms and flowering has brought not only untold beauty but meaning, of nature voicing messages. The flowers are signals and teachers, companions on a life journey. Here – in this and an upcoming post – are some insights and lessons that each spring’s blossoms and flowering have conveyed.
Something is exquisite when it’s extraordinarily fine and of beautiful, rare handiwork. Each spring blossom possesses this quality. Can someone really pass by a tree or bush full of blossoms and not stop to look at the astonishing beauty and detail in a single one? I have to suppress saying “wow, wow, wow!” out loud.
Each blossom is extraordinary in the way of an infant’s toes or a stream’s ripples, a cat’s paw or a hillside of autumn’s gold and scarlet. In the rich, bold colors of this single strand of yellow blossoms, the variation of each part, and the fine, soft curvatures of each petal are an elegant beauty. Look into the center of a blossom. The filaments reaching upward out of the center are thin, wavy, and delicate, and a tiny anther caps each filament.
Blossoms have fundamental patterns in their parts, but each spring’s burst of them reveals a countless variety of size, colors, and shapes. Walk through a city park, a campus, or town square, or along a country lane, and notice the variation and the absolute exquisiteness of each blossom among hundreds. Apprehending the majesty in a blossom has, over the years, imparted evidence of consummate handiwork in nature, if only we honor it by looking. All of it grows and bursts, through a combination of light and warmth, out of a single compact bud.
The exquisiteness is unheralded all too much. Were some snooty someone to put a little box of these blossoms in a square, install it in a fancy room, and call it something pretentious, with mixed-in uppercase letters, such as BLoSSoms ABound, people would pay lots of money to go in this room and stare at them. We don’t have to do that. During this annual rite of reawakening, nature creates a show of artistry all around us, exquisite and ever-new.