Spring blankets us in a seasonal rainbow, showers us with color like the multi-hued dust sprinkled on revelers celebrating Holi in India, where the colors are meant to spread love. I anticipate the advent of spring for its beauty and for the hope that wafts in with the first warm breeze.
An enormous weeping cherry tree sits in the center of what used to be my driveway. It was not enormous when we moved there 19 years ago, but it nearly eclipsed the front of the house when I sold it last year. Each year around this time I’d look out of the sidelight windows flanking the red front door, with its heavy brass dragonfly knocker, to see that the tree had seemingly woken up from winter hibernation in an explosion of pink petals. I always looked forward to that moment. Never tired of it. Never felt blasé or jaded about this bubble gum-shaded umbrella. It would last for a week or two, until the combination of wind and rain wrested the blossoms from the branches to make way for leaves, and carpeted the ground beneath it with its lovely detritus. I no longer have the house, the driveway, or the tree. I cannot even make myself drive by to see its splendor for fear that I will weep along with it.
I had planted forsythia there, too, at the foot of the driveway. More than any other bloom, that vibrant yellow yells spring the loudest. They grow very quickly, so the small plant I bought at Home Depot was my height by the time I left. For me, forsythia evokes the change of seasons as I experienced it as a very young girl growing up in Howard Beach, Queens. Those shrubs, scraggly all winter, lined the chain link fence perimeter of the blacktop playground where we convened as kids. Just as the weather warmed enough for our mothers to empty their afternoons of us by sending us outside, the forsythia would bloom and ring our concrete and steel world with color.
And those azaleas! My former husband’s father curated his in Virginia Beach with loving care. They’d come out a few weeks earlier there than here in the Northeast. Pete had a dazzling array of colors, and he would walk with me in the garden as he explained that I should trim mine right after the blossoms faded, so as not to stunt the next year’s buds. He waxed poetic on topics as broad as the spectrum of azalea hues in his garden on these walks. I miss his advice about horticulture and about life. I planted azaleas in our first home in McLean, Virginia, and again in our new home here in Connecticut. My dear friend Liz must have intuited this when, for Valentine’s Day, she sent me a pink one; it sits and smiles at me from the small terrace in my new apartment.
An anonymous haiku I read recently called the myriad colors of spring “confetti.” I love that image. My mother insisted that we shower her with it at every birthday celebration. The kids loved this ritual. We celebrated her life after she died by tossing her newly covered grave with it, as we will each year in her memory. The spring blossoms, particularly as they fall, remind me of her, too.
Photo by Diane Meyer Lowman