It's that time of year again. Time to watch as black branches turn into tinges of pale color, first little shoots, then tiny buds, blossoms and, finally, full green leaves.
It starts with black branches threaded delicately through blue sky. But as the stages move stealthily toward full-blown leafiness, tinges of green suddenly expand to hide the sky, seemingly overnight. Spring has sprung, usually moving all too quickly into summer.
Too quickly, because I love to watch the trees awaken slowly, on a daily basis. But every year, I forget just one day as I get caught up in the wrangles of daily living. And in that one slip of time, overnight, they go into full bloom without me!
It's always a disappointment, for my goal is to see it happen, to enjoy step by lovely step from barren to bloom. This is my very favorite time of year, the promise of spring bursting forth its uplifting message of warmer days ahead, every sign a bright reminder of future blessings.
Sunshine tells of sandals and shorts, of boat rides on Chautauqua Lake. Warming breezes shout of ice cream cones, of Italian sausage at family reunions in Clarence Town Park.
But mostly it's witnessing renewal of life that makes me smile. As I watch the trees bud through all their lacy transitions from twigs to summer's leaves, I focus first on sky that fills all minute spaces. Seeing next the crocheted trelliswork of subtle green on black, laced by soft blue, I find myself wishing this stage could last forever -- much as one wishes a playful kitten could always be that ball of fuzzy fun rather than its full-grown audacious and sassy counterpart, a cat!
But I know that's impossible, so instead I make a conscious effort to witness each fast-moving phase, especially when on the road, though that's not the only place I study.
I also wander around my yard, watching changes in my flower beds. It's true that weeds are saucily raising their persistent heads, but so are little shoots of irises and bleeding hearts. Some of the early rising flowers bob their heads in greeting. Wind-flowers, one of my favorites, dance their blossoms in time with the breeze, activity that undoubtedly gave them their charming name. Daffodils in all their yellow glory also bend to the wind, while their equally golden counterparts, forsythia, stretch up in swarms of glory. Downward, creeping ground-cover stretches outward to disguise brown earth.
The same little buds I see on trees I also see on bushes, every day growing a little bigger. Ornamental trees add their share of rosy pink and white to the color chart. Life is everywhere.
But the very best about this season is that I can watch it twice. Heading north out of Pittsburgh to visit family in Buffalo, or to weekend in Chautauqua, I watch the trees change all over again. It's a lovely bonus.
Years of "scientific" spotting have shown that up north warms some two weeks later than Pennsylvania, so at this time of year, each trip brings double pleasures, the vistas on the road heading northward mingling nicely with pleasures of family fun anticipated at the end of the journey. The return home presents another chance to witness that minute-to-minute transition, the simple wonders and beauty of growing life.
Watch for it. Don't miss a minute. Because if you forget, for even one day, those trees will be in absolute full summer's bloom and you will have missed it, till another 365 days transpire.
Camille Curro Baier, born and bred in Buffalo, now lives in Pittsburgh and summers at her Chautauqua Lake cottage.