Sure signs of spring

Published 3:07 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It happens without warning.

The angle of the light from the sun slowly changes and then one morning there is a pink glow in the bedroom. The cherry trees outside our bedroom window have exploded into full bloom with each small individual flower reflecting the sun’s early morning rays. Despite groundhogs and almanacs may say, I know at that moment that spring is almost here. There may be a cold snap or two, but the long, hard winter is over. I know because the cherry trees are blooming.

The next few days it seems that all of nature starts to hear the same alarm clock. The Japanese magnolias are usually next. You would never know there are so many around town if it weren’t for this brief period when they get to show out.

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The long anticipated arrival of the tulips is usually next. We never know from year to year what colors were planted in the various beds around our office and home. Their blooms are staggered based on the variety and location. Just a bit more sun can make a huge difference.

The red tulips in the back of the office are in full bloom, just as the yellow ones at the front door. However, the beds on the side of the driveway haven’t even shown the first bloom yet.

On South Morris Avenue, the tulips in Dr. Walker’s yard are competing with those in our yard to see who will be the first to open up. Four yellow blooms on the corner opened between breakfast and lunch. How efficient Mother Nature is.

A short drive around the neighborhood revealed Bradford pears in full white bloom. Daffodils are scattered here and there. Camellias, a dominant ornamental shrub in my childhood, are seen occasionally, blooming against their backdrop of green.

Spirea, also prevalent in my boyhood home’s landscape, are seen around town, as often in yellow as in white.

The azaleas and dogwoods that this area is so famous for haven’t even begun to bloom. They are like icing on the cake after all the early bloomers have shown their colors.

Of course, with all this beauty and the warming weather comes another sure sign of spring: pollen. My head feels it before my eyes see it. My dark car could be washed every day and would still be semi-yellow by dark. With the pollen, comes the headache, watery eyes and sneezing. A small price to pay for the coming of spring.

All this provided a perfect setting for my grandson Henry’s third birthday. My granddaughter, Laura, made the trip over for the afternoon party in his back yard. Along with his cousin on his father’s side, Haleigh, everyone had a blast. He is proud of his new bicycle. It if a far cry from the Western Flyer I was so proud to call my own.

The cake was delicious. Laura managed to get the icing on each of her little fingers. She has already learned how to lick them clean.

All the grandparents sat back in lawn chairs enjoying the entertainment, happy we didn’t have to be chasing all those sugar fueled kids around the yard.

Every scene seemed worthy of a picture. With my new high-speed digital camera I managed to click away. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that I had taken 151 photos. Only a grandparent is interested in viewing that many pictures of a birthday party.

From the party in Bainbridge, Mary Lou and I headed to Panama City for a Mardi Gras Ball. The Krew of Dominique Youx was celebrating their 25th year and recognizing all the past Kings.

My father was King Dominique Youx the Ninth. My brother and I escorted my mother into the ball in his honor. The spotlights shined on us as they announced his name. It was like being at the Academy Awards. She was beaming with one of us on each arm. It was worth having to wear that tux all night.

No where have I seen grown men act like children than at a Mardi Gras party. They dress up in outlandish outfits and act the fool. Quite a production, but a great time.

It is a little more than three weeks before spring officially begins. But whether enjoying the outside with your grandchildren or celebrating the new King with your mother, this is a great time of year.

The weather lightens our mood. The flowers shower us with color just before the green leaves fill the horizon. It is the time of rejuvenation, not just for the plants in nature, but for us as well.

We have survived another winter. It is not yet hot or muggy. It is a time that lifts the hearts of those of us who call this part of the world home.

Dan Ponder can be reached at