Fruit trees are starting their annual flaunt. A couple of weeks ago, I gathered an armload of branches from my apricot and pear trees and brought them in the house. I pounded the cut end of each branch with a hammer, smashing it to allow the branch to drink in more water, and put them in a large crystal vase in my sunroom.
The regimen worked, as they're all decked out now in delicious slips of white and pale, pale pink. What a gorgeous spring spray! Meanwhile, the trees outside are hurrying to catch up. Only one of the apricot tree's branches is in bloom. I wonder if the trees can see their severed limbs in full regalia inside the house.
I like flowering trees, but their excess can overwhelm at times; I remember writing a poem years ago, accusing a full-bloomed tree of being a floosy. Last spring, I empathized with my flowering plum tree during an angry March storm:
Nubile red buds
beaded on plum trees branches
are wrestling with relentless waves of wind.
They don't want to fight.
They just want to plump up till,
one warmed sun day,
they explode like pink popcorn.
It's hard for me to take these petalled trees seriously. Some poets have. Ezra Pound, for one. His famous "In a Station of a Metro" became a manifesto for the imagist poetry movement and this powerful piece only had fourteen words:
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
Pound treated a blooming tree's gifts with more reverence than I. Maybe I should learn from him. Maybe I should realize how impressive these beautiful, transient disks of color are.
Maybe I should learn from language. For example, the word "petal" comes from a Greek word that means "leaf" or "thin plate." A whorl of petals on a flower is known as a "corolla," Latin for "little crown." At the base of some petals are nectaries, which secrete nectar and sometimes perfume. This all sounds elegant and dignified.
Maybe I should adjust my assessment of blossoming trees from being spring's harlots to being the season's royalty. Imagine: millions of delicate little Princess Di's...lined up coyly on branch after branch for the annual cottillion. Yes, I think I'll try this new, more reverent view of the petals that make spring such a rare and sweet time of year.