Snow flurries 48 hours ago but winter’s at last behind us: when I drove the Girleens to school soon after sunrise this morning the white haze of the Bradford pears hung above the slopes and redoubts of nearby Grant Park like smoke.
Trash trees, those Bradford pears, horticulturalists don’t particularly like them. But the exact second the Bradford pears begin to paint Atlanta with that pale green and white wash, spring is come.
How on earth do they do it? For a few days in early spring, their blooming’s somehow demure and excessive both, and at that moment Atlanta is — for me — at its most heartbreakingly, seductively, southern.
The azaleas this neck of the woods is known for bloom a few weeks later, but they might be a tad too frilly and flamboyant. And what are April’s dogwoods, really, but the classiest of clichés, lending to the most litter-ridden Atlanta neighborhood a chinoiserie and elegance it probably doesn’t deserve?
But those Bradford pears, they’re impulsive. Sometimes they come too early, and we’re still busy bundling up against the cold. But mostly, they know how to seize their moment.
Which is right now, this instant. The leaves about-to-come are an insistent whisper caught up in the trees. A pair of summer tanagers just took dot-and-carry flight across the yard.
Last night, a pair of barred owls sat the oak outside our windows— who cooks for you who cooks for you? they demanded to know, and in the face of that question, what else could we do? We took the girls outside in their pajamas to see the owls’ odd, monkey faces peering down: we looked at them and they looked back, and in that minute all was right with our world.