Friday, April 20, 2012

Redbuds Revisited

Everyone in the Midwest is aware of the unseasonably warm period we experienced in March. Up here in Cannonsburg, from March 14 - 22, temperatures ranged from 74* to 86*! The Redbuds have been flowering for three weeks. They are a very popular ornamental landscape tree.

                                             Photographed during a gentle April shower.

This is the view from our "library" window, looking toward our east woods, and the field beyond:

My Dad and I planted this Redbud in the Spring of '98. At 75,  he felt strong and alive when working outside.

We live at about the northern latitude limit where native Redbuds grow. In season, Mary and I like to drive the long way home after church in Ada, for another chance to capture this breath-taking view:

Locals know of this stunning stretch of Redbuds along Pettis Avenue. They thrive on this slope across the river from Amway World Headquarters.

Redbuds begin to flower when they are 4-5 years old. They are bunched along the branches before the leaves emerge. Since they're in the Legume family, they resemble pea blossoms. Bees are the chief pollinators.

By late summer, the flower transforms into a 3-inch fruiting pod. It's tightly packed with 10-12 dark seeds. Like peas, only flatter, with the pod persisting into early winter. A few songbirds eat the seeds, including the secretive and rather rare Bobwhite.

Returning to the native grove of Redbuds last Saturday morning, the air was slightly hazy. But looking straight up, the sky was clear...

                                                ...painting a pleasing pastel of pink and blue.

Here, minute heart-shaped leaves are unfurling. Green chlorophyll still in their future. Moist, delicate; at most, only a few days old.

Look closer.

         Spider silk gathers early sunlight;
        a streaking thread of iridescence
pulsating along the filament
            with each soft breath of morning air

While looking through the lens, I hear, but do not see:

  • a Red-tailed Hawk - high overhead: a piercing, descending keeer-r-r
  • a Red-bellied Woodpecker - up on the ridge: a rising, quavering kwirrr
  • a Belted Kingfisher - clattering and rattling downriver
I walk upriver, descend the steep bank to the water, and find the distinctive tiered branches, laying in layers...

                                   ...overhanging the Grand River like a balcony of blossoms.

I take a seat in this amphitheater; absorbing with gratitude the sights, the sounds, the sensations.
A profound sense of peace flows over me. A sense of place. I am Blessed to be here.