Experience and Blackberry Winters

 

This 2018 spring of is the first North Carolina one for me since 1968. However, because my wife Mary Ann and I moved back this past August, we are enjoying it. The subtle changes into spring have come early it seems to me, but we, like everyone, enjoy the warmer nights and almost hot days. Regardless of the early signs, I look forward to March 20th at 12:15 PM (EDT) when the spring equinox occurs, and I can mark the true east and west of our new home making the weather vane more accurate.

In the yard of a neighbor a tulip magnolia begins to bloom. Its soft, pink flowers open a bit more each day, giving a bright glow under the dark, green canopy of pines. Off across the lake, a lone star magnolia signals spring by its white blooms, and a blazing yellow forsythia graces water’s edge not far from it. The sedum, lavender, and hydrangea that we brought from our garden in Virginia and planted in the side yard show spouts of green. I hold to hope for the transplanted coneflower that has yet to peek through the soil of its new home.  The tulip bulbs Mary Ann planted outside the dog area have thrust thick, green spikes through the pine needles, and we await their bright flowers of red to stand next to the black fence.  While the dogwoods and maples have yet to bloom, their limbs are heavy with soon to be flowers of white and pink and red.

Plants are not alone in this season of re- birth. Bird song vibrates the air and neighbors are outside cleaning winter debris from lawns and flower beds. On Lake Norman some early boaters can be seen enjoying an afternoon’s sunlight; walkers, cyclists, and runners enjoy the street running down our peninsula. It is all a glorious time, yet….

As a youngster I was warned my adults in my life about getting too excited concerning any given situation. If my beloved Brooklyn Dodgers were ahead in a game or series, I learned not to get too excited. As I grew and discovered females and fell in love more times than my years in high school, I learned to curtail too much excitement.  A bit of a hard-head, I finally mastered the control of run-away emotions sometime after college. It was a hard and long lesson, but by the time I read Stephen V. Benet’s 1933 short story, Too Early Spring, I was seasoned enough to grasp its meaning—of the story and its title.

The old folks in my young life knew. They had experience that I lacked, and their words of, “Just wait,” or “We’ll see,” or “Hold on a bit,” or many others were not cynical or stalling ones, but expressions from that wisdom gained only from experience. The old folks like Granny Susie, my grandmother, knew how to teach a young boy to whistle the call of a bob white, sharpen a knife, or make a slingshot from a dogwood fork, but they also knew the disappointment that a blackberry winter could bring as it turned bright flowers and buds into sad, brown sacs of death.

 

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