When he first moved North he did not believe Magnolia trees could exist here. He was convinced I had misclassified the tree. While I knew they were not the dinner plate size blooms found in the South, they were still Magnolias.
I knew a thing or two about Magnolia trees. Growing up on South Francisco Jack and May who lived two doors down from us on had a lovely Magnolia tree on their front lawn. Right in the center. Magnolias are great trees loved by armies of large black ants and little kids alike. I loved that May lived in a house with a tree that bloomed in May. From their white, pink-and purple-lined blossoms, to their sweet perfume, I never met a Magnolia tree I didn’t like.
Our second from last home together, there was a humongous Magnolia with branches that swept up to the master bedroom and then all around the limestone patio. I seemed to travel every year around its annual bloom. One year, I made it home just in time to witness the tree in full bloom. The next morning I nearly cried when I awoke to see a blanket of white petals splayed all over the grass. An overnight Spring storm stripped the tree naked.
This morning, I walked the dogs down a street that I had not walked for more than a week. The fuzzy husks of a willowy blooming bush had started to fall off and its protected buds were unveiled. Neighboring it, was a large Magnolia tree whose buds just started to loosen up. The street is my favorite one in the Spring. There are probably seven Magnolias on the street and I am drunk on their perfume when I walk it. Their fragrance is so much better than the essence of what I pick up from the dogs.
This morning Spring’s eruption tugged a bit at my heart. We planted a Magnolia, a Jane variety if I’m not mistaken. It’s one of the first things that we planted in the backyard, and he protected it so carefully so Cocoa, who was a pup at the time, didn’t chew its young branches. He also planted a Maple, which died shortly before he left. I thought that was symbolic. It literally fell over and died, cracked near its base. With the Maple dead and gone, the Magnolia is the only thing in the backyard that we planted together. Next month it will be four years since it became a fixture in our backyard. The ancient Lilac and the Magnolia bloom in unison.
This morning when we finished the walk I checked out Jane. She should open in all her glory this week.
Planting a tree means planting roots. We chose the right spot for its required sun and anticipated spread. We planned to watch them grow tall together. He’s gone now. And Jane, my Magnolia remains, proving to the world that Magnolias do exist and flourish in the North when left to fend for themselves.
Note: A prompt was born yesterday. Thanks to Marc from Sorryless, who wrote about what writing means to him yesterday. Like him, writing allows me to become unstuck. He checked out my Best Songs Ever page which led to a discussion about Aimee Mann and sooner than later I was listening to the Magnolia soundtrack and writing about my morning walk. Marc and Dale are two bright stars in my world, who I only found because writing gets me, and I get it. They too will do their own take on Magnolia. When life happens and we have the presence of mind to appreciate it, prompts are born, and blogs are written.