Friday, April 06, 2012

Spring Green

Against the pale gray sky on a chilly Maundy Thursday morning, the bright green leaves on the regenerating white oaks looked neon. The early spring ephemerals are almost gone, leading the way to late April and May's floral display, this year even coincident with Easter. Visiting high quality burned landscapes in late April, areas rich with forbs and a structural integrity only achieved through a long, long fire history, remind me of Eastertide in Louisiana.

For our little Episcopal Church high on a wooded hillside with longleaf pine trees and scattered white oaks, Easter weekend was spent gathering boughs of blooming dogwoods, azaleas, the showy bearded irises from the garden ladies, handfuls of any other spring wildflowers one could gather from family property. Years ago, a parishoner built an enormous three dimensional white cross with hundreds of holes bored into the front, places for children to cram flowers into the frame, flowers with wads of wet paper towels wrapped around the stems so they wouldn't wilt by the end of the services. By the time the majestic 11 am service began, the entire cross was packed to the gills with flowers, a magnificent sight, especially for girls like me who wanted to follow in botanist Caroline Dorman's footsteps rather than be a lawyer like my parents half-heartedly wanted. I insisted that my mother take photos of me in front of that cross with my favorite deacon- not for religious purposes, but because of the utter explosion of flowers of every color stretching for 8 ft high. The only contribution my two sisters and I ever made to the cross was dogwood boughs and pale pink sassanquas from my grandmother's yard in West Monroe. The ladies of the church ponied up the best of their bearded irises and lilies for this endeavor, and some families even bought flowers for the children's flower cross. (My parents would never do that)

The woodlands and glades I visited on Thursday, that clammy and gray day this week, reminded me of the big white plywood cross loaded with flowers. I walked slowly and deliberately that day to see every colorful bloom that returns every year after a fire in this ancient landscape, one fire maintained and remarkably heterogeneous and healthy and as my benchmark site for Spring in the Ozarks.


Elizabeth said...

I loved your cross story - when my kids were very young, they would pick flowers from our yard to put into a similar cross at our Episcopal Church, and always enjoyed it. I did not realize other churchs did it as well - maybe it's an Episcopal thing.

Allison Vaughn said...

I think it muse be--the only places I've ever seen them is in front of Episcopal churches. What a great church to belong to growing up. I loved the lenten lunches with the fancy soups, the Bach Advent concerts with string quartets, the wine and cheese parties, the high liturgy of Rite I, the music...a shame I don't still go.