Thursday, June 24, 2010

Appalachian Spring

The dogwood bloomed in pinks & whites throughout the mountains.
Ornamental crabapples brightened many yards with early blooms.
Tulip, or magnolia as they are sometimes called, were generous in their early bloom.
The emerging greens of spring painted a chartreuse landscape across the hills.

Appalachian Spring: 2010

Spring comes in waves of emerging greenery and blooming trees and bushes in the mountains. It overlaps with winter in a series of “Little Winters” known as redbud, dogwood, sarvice, or blackberry—depending on what’s in bloom at the time of occasional dipping temperatures. Everyone welcomes the brighter skies and lengthening days. The gray skies, the shadows of encircling mountains, the inhospitable roads, and series of heavy snows made the winter of 09-10 a hard one—even by local standards.

Festivals herald spring’s arrival in Kentucky, just as they do in other places. An early one for this area is the Redbud & Quilt Festival in Barbourville. A quaint old town and home to Union College (a United Methodist institution), it is a fitting backdrop for a gathering of quilters & crafters. Red brick buildings of the college house the festival’s indoor activities while Red Bud and Dogwood bloom around the historic campus grounds. Spring has to get very warm, very quickly to get the redbud and dogwood to bloom at the same time; it did in 2010.

It’s hard to know what’s prettier: redbud, dogwood, crab apple, cherry, magnolia, mountain laurel. They’re all beautiful. For me, the redbud that lined the roads and bloomed mightily on rocky mountain spots were special. Maybe because they bloom so early & last quite a while. White dogwood were a close favorite as they dotted the mountain sides amongst the greenery of spring leaves.

Of course, there are many more festivals—civil war enactments, the Poke Sallet sounded interesting, the Mountain Laurel at Pineville may have been fun for kids with its inflatables. Lots of arts, crafts, food, and history are to be had on successive weekends through the area. Oh yes, another sure sign that spring has come are the early cars shows that will continue in most areas from months to come.

Emerging greenery on the mountain sides is like a bargello canvas being sewn. Waves of green—dark and light—undulate across the uneven surfaces. The first hint of green is barely perceptible and then one after another of the varied trees begins to dress for summer. Homes that were visible in the leafless winter begin to disappear. The stark metal buildings and conveyors of the coal mines soften in appearance from passing roads. Over a period of weeks the greens change to their mature fullness of summer and the forest settles in for the heat to come.
People emerge in spring too. Tillers get cranked up and gardens emerge in many of the flat bottoms of local hollers. Four wheelers begin to share the roads. One hears about the first ‘Cemetary Reunion,” knowing that their season is just beginning. School children begin their field trips and special end-of-year programs. Baseball starts, graduates party, pools open.

I love spring. New life and energy, accompanied by the flowering that promises new growth is a sure sign that life renews itself in a cycle of beauty and hope.

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