Unfurling

Happy belated Earth Day. Today I’m in a bit of a spring swoon. I fall in love with the world this time of year. I find myself looking more closely than usual, feeling wonder and deep gratitude.

For lunch I had a salad of farmers market greens, augmented by a few trout lily leaves. Several large colonies appear every April across the street from our house for a short time before fading back into the earth.

We’d dug our Jerusalem artichokes last week, so I cleaned one up and cut it into crispy little rounds for my salad. While I was scrubbing the dirt off, it occurred to me that something about Jerusalem artichokes is just flat amazing. All that sweetness growing deep underground.

Jerusalem artichokes, aka sunchokes, from our garden

Jerusalem artichokes, aka sunchokes, from our garden

The tops of the plants are dead; we left the ‘chokes in the ground all winter. Yet here they are on my plate, ready to complement the sharp tang of mustard and dandelion and arugula.

I feel especially tender toward trees this spring. Probably because winter was longer and harsher than usual. Snow and ice buried us for several months. Many branches cracked under the burden; some trees split in half.

So it seems more miraculous than ever to see trees pushing new leaves and buds and blooms. Every day on my walks, there’s beauty surrounding me.  The tulip trees are especially dear, with these new baby leaves, furry like does’ ears, unfurling.

New tulip tree leaves, via Wikimedia Commons

New tulip tree leaves, via Wikimedia Commons

It just hit me, watching this happen—slowly, slowly, but still the growth is there—how really astounding it is that a tree can make leaves and blooms and seeds. Think of it: the tree, a hard wood thing, somehow pushes out softness and color.

I suppose I could review the science behind it: phloem and xylem, was it? In any case it’s miraculous. There are channels within that rough brown case—it’s alive!

Did I ever tell the story of my cousin who was raised in the Caribbean? When she came to visit Indiana relatives in the winter, she was appalled to see all the “dead trees” standing around. “Why don’t you cut all those dead trees down?” she asked my dad, to his great amusement.

Sometimes what seems to be dead is only in a state of deep rest. Waiting for the right time to stretch up and out, touch the sunlight again.

What is unfurling in your spring?

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