Spring generally announces its arrival with the bright colors of tulips, crocus, and daffodils, and the greening of grass and trees leafing out. And yet I’ve found a much softer and more delicate side to the season just out my front window. We have a lovely magnolia tree that bursts forth into blossoms near the middle of April. It’s bloom is much anticipated. And unfortunately its bloom is also short-lived, with the flower petals giving way to the wind or rain, and quickly to the green leaves that burst forth afterward. But as it becomes awash in white flowers it becomes magnificent. The petals are thin and delicate with a soft tinge of pink. To me it signals the whisper and call of a softer side to spring.
In this morning’s bright light, I stood under our magnolia tree to take in the colors, smells, and sounds. The leaves have turned a beautiful shade of gold, mixed in with some rusts and browns. The tree and the ground below it have that distinct smell of fall – old, musty, and dry. And as I photographed, the leaves were coming down all around me. The wind would rise, a rustle would develop, and I could hear the sound of leaves floating in the air, touching other leaves as they made their way to the ground. By the end of the day the area under the magnolia was a sea of leaves, yet there are still some holding tight until the next windy day.
Our spring has blossomed once again. Even amidst the cooler temperatures and late season, the magnolias have flourished and bloomed. Their bright white is a wonderful precursor to the later vibrant colors of the tulips and annuals that will follow. Although they bloom for such a short period of time, they seem to be the early messenger announcing the change of seasons.
Last week saw the end of winter with ice-out on our Minnesota lakes. This week we plunged head-first into almost-summer (oops – where was spring?) with green grass nurtured by light rains and warm sunshine. The birds have been singing early in the mornings and there are daffodils and crocus showing off their colors amidst all the burgeoning green.
Last month I posted a photo of the magnolia tree that is outside our front window. At the time the tree had buds and looked rather gangly. She has now come into her prime, graced with large white blossoms, hiding the softest of pinks near the blossom base. It is a joy to see the white petals shimmer in the early morning mist, and then turn almost translucent as the sun reflects off them later in the day. It is one of the short-lived joys of spring that graces our transitioning landscape prior to the arrival of summer.
Our winter landscape is brown this year because of our snow drought. And from a photographer’s viewpoint (at least this photographer), brown is not the most photogenic of landscape colors, especially in winter. But my attention was caught this morning when I looked out our front window. A few years back we planted a small magnolia by the window. Because it’s early February there’s nothing special about this magnolia — it’s way too early for it to bloom, and it’s only sticks and tips of branches right now. But I saw it much differently this morning when I looked out the window. The sun was backlighting the magnolia and the branches seemed to be dancing in the light — they were thin and random and their tips were haloed with the sunlight. Even the reflection of the side window frames seemed to add an ethereal quality to the setting before me. The entire scene and dance was playing out for me right outside my window — it only asked that I be aware and notice it. A little bit of extra attention to those things we see and take for granted everyday can sometimes reward us with exceptional sights, moments, and in this case photographs.