Dear Louisiana, you do narrow us down. Even with school out, you make us do math in summer, multiplying heat x humidity. Your falls aren’t official. It can still be 80 at Thanksgiving, and the only tree that does any leaf color is that pesky tallow tree, not even native here. If it weren’t for school, and football, we’d never know we were in fall. Louisiana winters are bland, just the browns, the color no kid picks from the crayon box. Those three being Like That, it’s no wonder most Louisiana people’s favorite season is spring.
Let Us Not Mention The Allergies…
…apart from the unmentionable A… a Louisiana spring is a luxury for we natives. First thing: it starts early. Like…way early. While Arkansas is still bracing for another Canadian front, we’ve got azaleas exploding color before the grass even greens.
Spring brings out the kid in us. Winter over is like school over, and spring is a time to play in the outdoors. The joy of the first grass cutting, that smell in the air. It’s enjoying the annual you planted last year that had such an easy winter that’s it good for another spring.
Walk your yard in the morning, walk your yard in the evening, you can visibly see the potency of nature, the want to, the eagerness to live. Every bud, branch and leaf is a role model of get-to-getting.
On the other hand, you don’t have to. You can just enjoy. Spring is so godly, a church play of pause and resume, of decay and rebirth, little wonder that Easter happens in spring…
In summer, nature is mature, but in spring, it’s all so fragile, and complex, a system of things that don’t know they’re part of a system, and in watching the bee in the clover it’s not a hard reach, to understand that we’re one or the other, in our own system.
Such Optimism On Display
The grass does not remember the mower of last summer. The tree does not remember the vanity of growing all those leaves last year, only to drop every single one.
They just do it again. I can use that in my life.
I hold the trees to a different standard, but when I look down, the plants seem childlike, in the best of ways. Everything is smiling at the sun. All this growing, all this greening, all this color popping, it seems so much like child-at-play.
And we, like parents and grandparents, we get to play too. We make it better, we make it safer, we give it a guide, with shovel, hoe, trowel, pruner, and hose. And then we stand back, admire, let it happen, let the kids be kids.
Trees feel more adult. I especially like the ones that are my elders. I like their power, the way they stayed outside during the worst of winter, showed me how it’s done. Everybody needs some tree in them.
Behold The Pecan Tree
Green everywhere, shoots and buds, aggression and enthusiasm, and there, still there, almost invisible, stands the pecan tree, still buck naked from winter, the last thing in the yard to start wearing spring.
This might be the first spring I’ve ever caught a pecan tree budding early. It wasn’t bucket list-y, but I appreciated the moment.
If I was a tree I wouldn’t qualify for pecan. I’m patient, but not that patient. I take too many risks. But I admire them, because no matter what the other trees are doing, the pecan holds, and holds, and holds, until it’s very sure… when a pecan pops a leaf, take it to the bank – winter is over.
Everybody needs a pecan tree in their life. It’s like the old person who has seen it all, and will ask that have-you-thought-about question, that no, you hadn’t thought about…
Back behind my grandparent’s house, go through the barnyard, past the little barn, and the bigger barn, there was a pecan orchard, six, eight trees. I played underneath them plenty. That’s where my father taught me how to pick the fallen, how to squeeze two together and crack one in your fist.
Dad was a walker/thinker. Something on his mind, he’d stroll, and many times I saw him underneath the canopy of those pecan trees, not a doubt in my mind that he was praying. Funny how that childhood stuff imprints on you. To this day, a pecan tree reminds me of Dad, and walking beneath one feels brush arbor-ish, church outside.
I wonder if God is kinda pecan tree-ish. We pray with urgency, all in a hurry, all around us everyone seems so sure and answered, while we wait, and wait, and wait, for God to decide when our winter is over…
…but you live a while with a pecan tree, go through decades, and watch how often we have a false spring, and then here it comes, another invasion of winter, and woe to anything wearing short leaves.
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This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is brought to you by Eighty-one, where we hope your hands get wonderfully dirty making your own little Eden.
Book version of Uncle P Bedtime Stories can be found at Eighty-one, 3507 Ryan St, Lake Charles. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.