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Amid spring’s disasters, renewal

Late April and early May tornados and deluges of biblical proportions aside, this has been one of the most pleasant spring seasons in recent memory — particularly welcome after the months of torrential rains last summer/fall and a cold, wet, dreary winter that seemed as if it would never end.

April brought day after sunny day, warm daytime temps without the accompanying oppressive humidity that characterizes our weather most of the year, deliciously cool nights, and everywhere a spectacular landscape as Mother Nature decked herself in color palette that was a feast for the eyes.

It seemed there would never be any signs of spring. The mid- to late-February warm spell we usually get didn’t materialize. March was cold, wet, gloomy; winter seemed determined not to loosen its grip.

Then daffodil leaves began cautiously poking above the soil, and before we knew it the landscape was a riot of color, trees were leafing out, and planters were rolling full speed ahead (and on the route I drive frequently, it seems there’s more cotton).

The dratted Bradford pears (the weeds of the tree kingdom) were showier than in years, spectacular clouds of white — except for the one I inherited with our house, which had nary a blossom, probably getting even with me for my dislike of them.

Now, the catalpas are blooming — a vastly underrated landscape tree, much admired by Thomas Jefferson, with beautiful spring blossoms, welcome deep shade in summer, and a supply of fishing worms much of the year. One of the largest catalpa trees I ever saw was on the campus at Ole Miss, an absolutely stunning tree when in bloom. I wonder if it’s still there?

Forty years or so ago, in early May, we’d take our kids and meet friends on the Mississippi River bluffs at Memphis for a picnic at Cotton Carnival (remember Cotton Carnival?), awaiting the nighttime arrival of the glittering barge carrying all the cotton royalty, followed by a spectacular fireworks show — and it would often be so cold we’d huddle under our picnic blankets.

Now, King Cotton has been dethroned, the pomp and trappings of Cotton Carnival on the river are long gone, and the bluffs where we picnicked are covered with condos and palatial homes. Sic transit gloria …

It’s long been a cautionary adage in the newspaper biz that one shouldn’t write about weather, because by the time the paper gets to the reader the weather may have changed drastically. So, when you read this it may well be blazing hot, with miserable humidity.

But, as I write this on an early May morning — with cool breezes blowing, the thermometer on the deck reading 59 degrees, mists rising off the lake, a bright sun peeping above the tree line, and a new green world everywhere to behold — if this be global warming, sign me on for some more.


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