Published in the Rains County Leader on March 31, 2022
Robert Worley approached me at church on Sunday and told me I recently missed a newsworthy event – the Rains County Republican Convention. Apparently it was a great success with some positive results. Seven representatives were chosen to attend the Texas State Republican Convention in June where they will present a resolution that will prevent foreign countries from buying Texas land and companies.
I was excited for him because, not only does the proposal address an issue about which he is passionate, but he is also one of the representatives. But I am not much of a political writer. I occasionally collaborate with Robert on something of a more serious nature, but left to my own devices, I tend to produce feature articles and fluff. Still, our conversation made me wonder what else I might have missed during the past week.
Early spring is my favorite time of year. I’m not too crazy about the time change, but since my schedule is pretty much my own, I adjust without too much trauma. But what I love is the beauty that appears as the plants come out of hibernation with a promise of new life. In Texas, though, you have to enjoy quickly, because the time between winter chill and summer heat is short-lived. As I looked back on the last few days, I realized that I had missed several of those special days while I was inside reading or working on my computer. Those were not wasted hours as I studied for classes that I attend or facilitate at church and as I work on that illusive next novel, but you know what they say about all work and no play. So Sunday afternoon I took a stroll around our back yard to see what our untamed wilderness was up to.
The first several years we lived here, I envisioned woodland retreat areas with comfortable seating surrounded by flower gardens that bloomed year round – ideal places to write while drawing on the inspiration of nature. The reality of that type of landscaping, though, is that it requires more time, money, and ability than we have, so we settled for a comfortable front porch and a yard where the weeds are more or less under control. But there is still natural beauty, especially among the wild vines and plants that border the property and threaten to reclaim it when ignored for too long.
My favorite spring color comes from the half dozen or so red bud trees that grow wild along the bank of the creek that follows part of our property line. Most of the year they’re not very pretty – just another non-descript scraggly tree. But for a week or so in March, they really strut their stuff. They’re not as impressive as their more cultivated relatives, but their sudden burst of color after several months of bare brown branches is thrilling – and I was thankful that I hadn’t missed it.
Another color I enjoy in the spring is the new leaves on the trees. While the greenery of summer is beautiful, there’s something extra-special about the pale green of those first buds. The early leaves look fresh and clean before the Texas dust and heat take their toll. I spotted one particular tree while I was standing on the creek bank surrounded by brush that had not yet sprouted. All I could see of the special tree, which remains unidentified because I am still a city girl, was the top ten or twelve feet waving like a flag above everything around it. The breeze was stirring the leaves so they seemed to shimmer in the sunlight leaving an image in my mind that couldn’t possibly be captured with a camera.
My steps crunched across the layer of dried leaves that covers the ground waiting for David to fire up the mower and turn them into mulch. There is spring color even there, though. The tiny purple flowers that grow flat against the ground were peeking through – more springtime that I didn’t miss.
I made a pass by the deserted slab toward the back of the lot – a reminder of an unfinished project left by a previous owner. There are a few blackberry vines along two sides of the slab that usually yield a cobbler or two in May. The crop may be slim this year as the vines seem to dwindle every year, but I did see one lone white bloom that I took as a hopeful sign. But if they don’t produce, Brenda has invited me to come over and pick blackberries from the huge tangle of bushes they have against their garage. She also suggested a trip to the local farms for strawberries and blueberries when they are in season. I don’t want to miss that, especially now that I have a freezer for extras.
One thing I didn’t see – and I hope I didn’t miss – is the dogwood blossoms. We have a couple of those that can only be seen by fighting through the underbrush. I know the tradition is that they bloom around Easter, and since Easter is late this year, I’m hoping the dogwoods are holding off a few weeks.
Another thing I hope I didn’t miss is the nice weather. The highs are supposed to be in the 70s and very low 80s for the next ten days, so I plan to do some porch sitting before it gets too hot. I may take my laptop with me, but it’s hard to focus when the sunlight is reflecting on the screen and the birds are putting on a concert. Those of you who are waiting for my next novel may just have to be patient a little while longer.