Fall makes me feel alive, and winter is magical right up through Christmas.
Then I start to slowly suffocate under the double dose of darkness and cold.
After so many weeks of gray, it takes more than a few tulips in bloom to get me excited about life again. To me, spring has always seemed like a speed bump on the way to the perpetual sunshine and freedom of summer.
Then Wyatt came along and taught me that flowers bursting forth from the ground are kind of a big deal.
He always keeps a close watch on the buttercups that start growing wild around our yard at this time of the year. As soon as they reach the height of their beauty, he picks them for me, and I assign them a place of honor on our kitchen table.
It is impossible to overlook spring when a cute little guy is hand delivering it to you every week.
A recent trip to Birmingham Botanical Gardens to take some photos for the next edition of Walker Magazine also has me rethinking my stance on spring.
Executive director Fred Spicer was kind enough to give Beth Stukes and me a guided tour of the Japanese Gardens, where a new amphitheatre named in honor of Beth’s mother is located.
First, we drove under the curved top torii, translated “gate to heaven.” I learned later that a torii is used in Japan to mark the entrance of a sacred space.
This particular torii was dedicated in memory of Beth’s grandmother, Elza Stewart Drummond, in the 1980s.
Beyond the entrance is a tunnel of Yoshino cherry trees known as the Kayser Cherry Walk. Some of them came from the famous cherry trees in Washington D.C., that were a gift from the people of Japan in 1912.
Spicer told us that the Japanese cherry, or Sakura, is a symbol of the fleeting beauty of life.
When the cherries are in bloom, the Japanese pay attention. They host flower viewing parties and festivals to celebrate this special sign of spring.
Weather forecasters predict when they will be blooming in various areas of the country so that people can follow the cherry blossoms the way we Alabamians follow fall foliage.
The American version of this sentiment is “Stop and smell the roses.”
I am familiar with the expression, but I usually sprint through the garden without even noticing the roses.
In fact, I just realized that I have had a Japanese cherry tree under my nose for the past five years.
Several days after my trip to the Botanical Gardens, Zac and I were taking a walk with Wyatt when I spotted an array of white and pink blooms on a tree along the edge of the yard.
We have a perfect view of this tree from our living room window. It has bloomed every spring since Zac and I have been married.
I am sorry to say that I have never paid any attention to it, and it is likely that I would not be giving it any thought this year if not for the conversation with Spicer.
Now it is as if scales have fallen from my eyes. Every time I look out the window, I am reminded that life is as brief as it is beautiful.
While summer is still but a dream, the gift of spring is at hand.