Summer and the Pinks of Spring

Pretty soon I will hear the cicadas begin their incessant call meaning that summer is well and truly on us, and so before that happens I wanted to make sure that I have captured and recorded spring.  In all her blushing pink!

Saucer Magnolia

Today the azaleas bloomed!  In the morning they looked like big fat lipsticks pointing straight up on the plants/among the dark green leaves, by evening they had opened!  Beautiful blossoms that unfurled as the warmth of the sun worked on them.

When I lived in Africa, I used to listen for spring.  As the sun moved back over the equator and towards us in the South, the hard cold of the Highveld seemed to break and if you were quiet enough you could almost hear the sap rising in the bare plants.  Slowly but very definitely, the tips become green and supple seeming to stretch towards that coming warmth.  I listened too for the sound of the African Hoopoe.  The “whoop..whoop” coming first from far away on the wind, then echoing from somewhere nearby and suddenly one weak sunny day, right in the garden!  Spring had arrived when I saw those cheerful little fellows busy grubbing in my dry lawn, their striking black, brown, tan and white standing out against the tired khaki of the winter-end landscape.
Here, in the Carolinas, spring arrives with the faintest blush of pink.  Stark grey and dark brown under cold grey skies one day appear to take on a rose tint.  From the tips down.  Then I see the dark pink beginning blossoms on the fruit trees, the plum, the cherry.  Every day a new tree rushes to join in this joyous celebration!  Soon the Bradford Pears are out, saucer magnolias in their pale pink plastic and frilly cherry blossom.  Rain in the season brings a clarity and washes the air leaving blossom carpets and turning the grass green in front of our very eyes. 
The Carolina Wren is insistent outside crying “It was you!  It was you!  It was you!”  The mocking bird has been trying out various different songs never sticking to any one for any length of time but running through his repertoire for our enjoyment.  The red Cardinal so flashy and noble in winter against bare grey branches and white snow seems vulgar now against the pastel colors of spring and so he sticks to the tops of the green pines and sings his sweet song. 
The air is literally filled with bird song as new arrivals greet those leaving for different pastures or cooler climes than ours.  I’m watching carefully every day now for that elusive and so exciting visit from the cedar waxwings.    They look for all intents like painted courtesans!  In fact they remind me a lot of the loeries in tropical Africa, especially the Knysna Loerie with their gorgeous white eye-liner and little crests on their heads, excepting in miniature!

Squirrels are busy too digging up their last winter stores, nibbling on sweet new leaf tips and forever chasing one another up and down trunks and along sketchy branches.  Mothers-to-be are re-lining and patching their nests and preparing for the arrival of babies.  The sheer exuberance and undeniable vitality of spring surrounds us all – how can we not respond in kind?  So I take joy in the pinks of spring, smile at each new blossoming bush, call to the birds and laugh at the squirrels while I brush out kitty’s thick winter coat giving him a sleek new spring look.  What a glorious world we live in!

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