Friday, April 18, 2008

The Wearing of the Green

Every spring there are a few days (maybe a week) where the grass is far enough along in its vegetative resurgence that it is lushly green, while the deciduous trees, in their lumbering way, lag behind. Here in northeast Missouri we are in that brief window now. The yards look like they're two days away from their first mowing and the trees are still wearing their winter countenance.

To be sure, if you take a close peek, you can see the tree buds are swelling and the leaves are just about to explode out of their cocoons. (Yes, the buckeyes are already leafed out, but those precocious Sooners are exotics in these parts and our woods today are, in the main, still being brought to us by the color Brown.)

It's an odd juxtaposition that I marvel at every year: as if the artist in charge of background scenery was undecided between a somber leafless setting, or something up-tempo and verdant. It's hard to believe that the grass and the trees are participating in the same weather.

This also signals the beginning of the end of our long views, especially over the river valley to our west. The late-to-the-party legions of leaves will soon clothe the bare branches and mask the horizon until the fall denuding. Today we can see the weather we'll getting 30-60 minutes from now just by looking out the window. After the trees leaf out, we'll only be able to see 5-10 minutes ahead, unless we walk down the lane where the drop-off is sharp enough that we can peer over the copse of oaks that define our western boundary.

• • •
March 1 I was in Texas, driving through the night from Albuquerque to Houston. Arriving late morning, I got my first 08 glimpse of this green-grass/brown-trees phenomenon. It's taken six weeks for this road show to creep north—about 100 miles a week. Driving north-south this time of the year is like being inside a Walt Disney nature movie displaying the progression of the seasons through time-lapsed photography. If I were headed to Minneapolis I could see the grass retreat backward into dormancy; a road trip to Memphis would showcase leaves on steroids.

A few years back I had work in North Carolina in late April, two weeks home in early May, and then a trip to New Hampshire following that. I got to see lilacs blooming in all three places. Not bad. (Kind of like experiencing spring with TiVo.)

No comments: