Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Seasons in the Garden: We're eating May





            When the cherry tree begins to open its white blossoms, the bird arrives to sit at the very apex of the tree, one by one eating all the blossoms. Of course, she's not really eating them. She picks each one off, stabbing it with her beak and flicks it off immediately onto the ground. Grabs another in an instant, does the very same thing. I watch her do this to a dozen or two before I can't watch any more.
            The next day she brings a friend.
            I think they're finches. Some red around the upper breast or shoulders.
            No one knows exactly what they're doing. My latest theory is that there's some moisture in the blossom they're throwing, or trying to throw, down their gullets. Some precious drop of nectar.
            I feel the same way about the birds on the cherry blossoms as I do about the balmy spring days that have at last reached us. I love that they're here, with their sudden acceleration into T-shirt temperatures, but I don't want to go through them too quickly.
            Now that spring has finally settled in, I'm fear the beast of summer panting close behind. Summer approaches with its large, happy jaws, eating up those eighty degree days.
            And so, yes, the weeping cherry tree blossoms have come and gone. You anticipate the annual bloom, you want it, but you know it's going to go by fast. Even if the birds weren't there to scatter the flowers and speed the process, the blossoms don't last. It's not their job to hang around.
            The white week on the cherry tree is the beautiful moment. Beauty isn't the blossoms' job either, it's just a way to spread the fertility around in case there happens to be another tree, of the same variety, in the near neighborhood that wants to make fruit. Sounds unlikely but somebody fruits; somebody must, there are always more cherry trees. I realize, of course, the trees they sell us, the ones we buy, are 'man-made' in nurseries. The tree don't know this. Or, maybe, they don't care.  
            They will go on being trees. The birds will go on being birds. The tulip flowers opened in the last few days. The flowers won't last very long if the warmer weather, which we adore, flaunting our cold-bitten selves in its softening influence, goes on as it has the last few days. The daffodils, in contrast, have bloomed for a month; because, it was a chilly month.
            You can't have what you want very often. And when you do have it, you can't have it long. So I am dragging my feet in the merry month of May.
            I don't want a return of chill April, frigid March, near-freezing temperatures over night. I don't want the hot-fan setting of the warm winds of July. I want what we have right now. We're having it, but we're eating it too -- like the proverbial cake in that most common of cautionary axioms. We're eating May. But if we eat it too fast it won't last long.
            Of course it won't last longer than it's supposed to no matter what we do. So we might as well eat it up.