Saturday, May 16, 2009

May in Hampton Roads

Late March & April are really the glory months around here - the azaleas are in full bloom, the Bradford pears are full of blossoms, redbuds cast a purple haze. Flowers are everywhere.

Then comes May. Just the word 'May' conjures up images of children frolicking in a field of blossoms. Ladies swinging on swings with flowers in their hair (thank you 'Camelot'). It's a lie, I tell you, a lie! Not here anyway. Aside from roses, May isn't very colorful in these parts. All of the early spring bulbs have long since disappeared, most of the spring blooms have withered away, and most yards are devoid of any color except green.

Don't get me wrong - green is a beautiful color. One of my favorites, in fact. And the greens of May are bright and vivid. Intense greens that glow in the sun before the heat of summer dries & dulls them.

But you have to avert your eyes to avoid seeing the poor azaleas after they are finished with their color. Sorry azaleas, but you are pretty dang ugly without your blooms. Look at these before & afters:

Pretty sad. There is one unexpected jewel, though. If you lift your face and breathe deeply, you will catch whiffs of a sweet scent. Weeds. Delicious, fragrant weeds! I am referring, specifically, to honeysuckle and ligustrum.

Honeysuckle evokes powerful memories. We didn't have any in Illinois, where we lived until I was 7. But then we moved to Chapel Hill, NC, and there was honeysuckle everywhere. In both white & yellow. The vines covered the entire north side of the property our apartment was on. Is there anything that paints a picture of childhood freedom more than snapping off the bottom of the flower and pulling out that one precious drop of sweetness to fall on your tongue? Dining on honeysuckle is like turning back the clock for me. I love the stuff.

Ligustrum is a weed bush. Referred in old times as a privet hedge, modern developers use it to excess because it is cheap and grows fast. Both sides of my front yard are bordered by these bushes, and one of my neighbors takes particular glee in wielding his electric hedge trimmers and shearing them to within an inch of their lives, into smooth symmetrical shapes. He usually did this in early spring, just when the new growth started, so they rarely had a chance to bloom. But this year, he is feeling the years creep up on him (he is in his mid-eighties) and hasn't gotten out the shears yet. I'm glad, because now the bushes have had a chance to bloom, and ligustrum flowers have a sweet perfume that brings a smile to my face.

That little vase of sweetness is now in my living room. And look who I found in my front yard on this overcast & drizzly morning.

1 comment:

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Honeysuckle is intoxicating.