Now mid-way into April the bluebonnets and indian paintbrushes began to emerge on the sides of the highways. My pear tree put out a number of beautiful waxy pink tinged leaves. My mulberry tree flowered, became pollinated, and currently sports a small crop of bumpy green berries. The agarita bushes bloomed, were polinated, and grew tiny berries. The pin oak threw out a million little pinkish red leaves that unfolded and opened into a canopy of jungle green. The sumac tree was the last to awaken. I retrieved the trash can from the intersection this week and noted the tips of each branch had slivers of green jutting from them, just on the very ends of each branch tip. Everything has awakened…later than usual. Maybe nature has noticed that the new weather pattern for the last two years has included devastating ice events in February. Perhaps they want to be sure they dont awaken too early and get frosted.
Those two ice events destroyed my trees. It killed the pomegranate and the brown turkey fig tree down to the base of the trunks. Both trees started over from the roots but they had lost all their height and only put out leaves at the very base of the trunk. I nursed the pomegranate and fig trees back from the brink of non-existence and coaxed them into their new stage of infancy but i was frustrated it would now take years before they were as old as they were when i bought them. My family member offered me a cutting of her own tree, a brown turkey fig tree. It looked healthy and sturdy and was the size that my tree was when i planted it, if not a little bigger. I took her up on it and carted the potted tree home. It lived in the house the remainder of the winter and went on the porch during warm days. It lost all its leaves during the cold weather and when spring rolled around it sprouted an impressive canopy of leaves while living in my house. I decided to plant it when i was pretty sure we were done having freezing temperatures at night. I dug a hole one day right before sundown on the day before an exam. I had some anxiety to channel and so i did.
I lowered the fig tree down into that hole and surrounded it with dirt. I watered it, said a prayer, and hoped that it would take root and become strong and healthy before the battering winds got a hold of it.
It seems to have avoided shock and taken root in its new environment. I hope it grows huge like the one from my childhood, but the soil here is like a mix of clay, chalk, and sulfur. It is a struggle for anything to thrive. Most things just make it by. I realize that this dry, dusty environment is not the ideal place for growing nutrient rich food but i have hope that somehow it will dig in and grow tall in spite of it. Stranger things have happened.
There are more hot, dry conditions. The whole south is like a tinderbox right now. The sun and the winds just won’t quit. High winds are forecasted all this week. Luckily there are only two fires burning in all of Texas and they’re far away from me. We need a drenching rain, desperately. In the meantime we’re just trying to police every cigarette butt or barbecue in existence.
There was one more thing that really brought it home for me that Spring was back, despite the epic hot and dry conditions that made it feel like we’d skipped straight to summer. Thinking that there was no possible way a bird would find last year’s nest hidden beneath the mess of cardboard pieces that had collapsed in on themselves when they got wet over the winter in the stacked plastic toy boxes i had once used as makeshift planters, i went to throw out the cardboard and move the planters to the shed. To my surprise, a dark little bird came shooting out of there and when i looked, there were 5 little eggs she had been sitting on. We were going to have bird babies again!!! Meanwhile all my birdhouses stand empty. I think we’ll just keep the toybox planter tower and get rid of the birdhouses. The birds have spoken. We know which spot they prefer. Come to think of it, its kind of an ingenious design. The babies never fall out of the nest, it never sways in the wind, and predators cant see them from above. Ive dubbed the tower “the bird nursery”.