Every time I turn around I notice something in my environment that amazes me. It’s not that I’m so easily amazed, it’s just that this environment–landscape, geography, and climate– are relatively new to me. I’ve never lived through a spring season in southern California, and I’m still learning what the seasonal shifts are like here, so the surprises keep coming. Everywhere there are bursts of unexpected color where there wasn’t any before, in the blooming trees, shrubs, and flowers that I don’t recognize, and in unfamiliar sweet scents in the early evening breeze whose origins I can only guess at.
For a right-on-my-front-doorstep example, take the Magnolia tree in front of our house. Though I’ve lived around them, Magnolias are not trees I know well. In the last few days we’ve been shown, by the tree itself, a spring change that for most trees might pass unnoticed while blossoms filling the branches get all of the glory.
The other day my oldest son came running to show me something he’d found in the gutter in front of our house. It looked like a very thin shell or husk covered with a tannish-yellow fuzz, almost like fur. “What is this, Mom?” he wanted to know. I was at a loss at first, so we went together to investigate the area where he found it. We discovered lots of these ‘shells’ on the ground mixed in with fallen Magnolia leaves. Looking up into the tree I spotted many of the giant white buds and blossoms beginning to open in the branches, and there was our answer. The Magnolia buds are large teardrop-shaped bulbs that burst open into grapefruit-sized blossoms, dropping these furry husks to the ground.
Here’s what the kids collected under the tree:
I’m on the lookout for other spring oddities, these giant flowers are only one example of a brand new experience of spring.
This next picture was a lucky shot thanks to my zoom lens, taken up at a Magnolia blossom about eight feet above me. I didn’t even know the bee was in the photo until I looked at the image on my camera–that’s one happy buzzer!