My parents bought a farm when I was six, moving from Warren, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. The farm house had been tended for almost a hundred years by a family that moved closer to a lake called Euler Lake, not named for the mathematician but for a farmer family that lived nearby.
The wife, a school teacher who had begun her career in a one room schoolhouse, had quite a garden cultivated around the farmhouse. She was my first grade teacher and she gets credit for teaching me to read. She had planted bayberry, trumpet vine, pussy willow, hydrangea, chrysanthemums, lilac, quince and forsythia. These bushes continue growing and flowering for decades after the couple built their dream house closer to the lake. We had no need to trim them or care for them in any way. The plants just kept prospering and do so to this day. We are talking about forty years of flowering shrubs, growing as generously as if we were living in the Garden of Eden. The patches of myrtle and periwinkle still grow and flower, even though the maple trees the patches surrounded have fallen to old age, cut down when the trees became snags threatening to fall upon the house. The family still owns this property; I would love to find an ambitious farm woman who would love to take it over, give it a shot.
The lilac bloomed every year to perfume the air of Mother's Day. The Forsythia bloomed in time to announce the coming of spring. And it was and still is a favorite of mine. It propagates easily, a fact that is apparent because I am seeing forsythia in every hedgerow this week. It doesn't surprise me that forsythia was thought to be a cure for disease on rampage in amovie, Contagion. It seems to have a balming effect upon me when I see it or pick up its faint scent. The green twig of it has more scent than the yellow flower of it. My mother made sure we heard the name of all these flowering plants, and I think Forsythia is the first plant I made the connection between its name and appearance.
The soft maples have thrown their red buds, which remind me of little vermilion cloves. I have seen them rain as a first crop around the base of these trees and have witnessed them dried and powdered by a few days of sun and crushing under the wheels of cars. The dust blows away easily. I am sure the maple sugaring season was brief this year, with budding and leafing occurring three weeks before its time. When the buds appear, the sap begins to grow sour. One joker on Facebook has wondered if the Holland Tulip Festival will be renamed the Holland Stamen Festival or the Holland Stem Festival, because that might be all that is left by May 5th, 39 days from now..
Nature's first green is gold. Her hardest hue to hold. It's not the first time I've quoted this line from Robert Frost in this blog. I feel the spring passing by us all too quickly, and I greatly regret the quick passing of March. I am not ready for April. I am not ready for summer. I can't imagine winter anymore.
Forsythia as a cure for contagion?
Tulip Time in 39 days, according to the official website:
Nothing Gold Can Stay: