Winter in Arkansas is my least favorite season. Yes, even the heat and humidity of summer are better than this! While many of the trees here turn beautiful colors in the fall and lose all their leaves by mid-November, there is an abundance of pin oaks, which retain many of their brown leaves all winter. When I look outside, I see a brown and gray world, punctuated by dead pin oak leaves clinging to branches. The pin oak leaves are like the exclamation points of a dreary winter. I've always struggled with a degree of seasonal depression as it is, so the bland Arkansas winters seem especially long to me.
This is why I have developed an eagle eye for early signs that spring is on its way. Typically, we start seeing tiny green leaves on some deciduous shrubs in mid-February. Bradford pear trees and ornamental plum trees bloom toward the end of February and early March. A few daffodils have ventured out now, but the bulk of them, along with the tulips, will bloom mid-March. My favorite tree, the dogwood, will grace our neighborhood with white and pink bracts (blossoms) toward the end of March, and silkworms will weave their nests in trees all over town. Wisteria arrives in early April, followed by an explosion of spring by the middle of April. While all of these are great, there is one special harbinger of spring that I anxiously watch for every year. We didn't have them in California, so here's a little botany for you Californians!
Our neighbor around the corner has a mid-sized forsythia bush in his front yard. It is an ugly bush most of the time. Yet this neighbor told me he keeps it solely for the 6 weeks of glorious blooms it puts forth at the end of February. This bush is like a patch of warm sunshine in the midst of the gray. This will be the 4th winter I have watched and enjoyed this neighbor's bush. This year, Snapper is watching it with me. I have decided I will photo document its eruption, and share a bit of spring with you! We drive by and inspect our bush every day, sometimes twice. This morning we were delighted to discover the first tiny blossom! Here are two pictures. Keep watching for more! I hope you'll enjoy the arrival of spring right along with us.