Like most good things, we take them utterly for granted, until suddenly, they’re gone. Leaves are the landscape, a green blanket that wraps every tree, covers the hills, surrounds us everywhere. After the gaudy fun of fall foliage, it’s almost a relief to see the bare bones of the trees, naked and leafless. But along about Groundhog Day, I get to longing for leaves. Even though it’s bitter cold, the increased light seems to indicate that leaves should be there, drinking up the sun, working their magic. Like a tree, I feel the urge to photosynthesize.
I want leaves. But there are no leaves (evergreen needles are technically leaves, of course, but they’re part and parcel of winter—they don’t count.) All through February, all through March, not a leaf on oak, maple, elm or birch, aspen or cottonwood. True, the buds are becoming more noticeable, swelling optimistically. True, the willow boughs are turning a hopeful yellow. But not a peep of green.
April, now. Spring at last. Surely it’s time for some leaves.
But no. April trudges onward through the mud, rain, sleet, and sunshine of that most fickle month. The spring peepers bravely tune up even as snowflakes sift down from the gray sky. Still no leaves.
Even when greenery does appear, it starts off low and timid. Spring grows from the ground upwards. First the grass greens up, moss turns emerald, fiddle heads unfold. Then the shrubs begin. Wildflowers spurt to get their share of sun before the forest umbrella unfurls over their heads.
It’s spring at your feet but still winter overhead, with bare branches rattling in the chilly breeze. I’m still waiting for leaves.
Thanks to Wells Horton for the above photo, one of his many beautiful shots.