The three months of Spring are March, April and May. In spring the days grow warmer, longer, and the flowers bloom. Many animals that have hibernated come out and dormant plants begin to grow again. The grass greens and the leaves bud and burst out in soft yellow green and fresh rich color after the dormant winter. Animals have babies, birds hatch out of their eggs and baby birds learn to sing with their parents, all rejoicing in this glorious time of year. Spring is the season of refreshing, rebirth, and rejuvenation. A lovely quote says: “Spring adds new life and new beauty to all that is.”
I know spring comes at different times in different parts of America and at various times around the world. But here in Tennessee, spring begins in March, with the days beginning to warm into the sixties and even seventies, along with occasional cold spurts. In March, East Tennessee still might have an occasional reminder of winter—a week of icy days or an unexpected snow. By April and May the cold spells begin to diminish and don’t last long. The old Timers gave these Appalachian cold spells specific names, mostly coinciding with trees, shrubs, and flowers in bloom at the time: (1) Redbud Winter in early April; (2) Dogwood Winter in late April, (3) Locust Winter in early May; (4) Blackberry Winter in mid-May; and (5) Britches Winter in late May.
Many cultures celebrate the return of spring—often with events and festivals or with gatherings at parks or outdoor settings. Daffodils, the March birth flower, begin to pop out all over the East Tennessee valleys and yards as spring arrives. Daffodil shows and events celebrate spring coming to the area and the daffodils planted along much of the Pellissippi Parkway in Knoxville begin to bloom out. Maria de la Luz Compere spearheaded the planting of at least 1.7 million daffodil bulbs along the Pellissippi Parkway, leaving everyone a beautiful legacy to enjoy. Wordsworth wrote: “if one daffodil is worth a thousand pleasures, then one is too few.” This could well be the motto of many around Knoxville, where I live, because the yards, gardens, and roadsides are thick with daffodils of all colors and types as March comes to our area of the world. Daffodils are not the only flowers to bloom in March, even if the most prolific. Other early flowers begin to pop out in the yards and beds, like snowdrops, crocus, and then the blooming shrubs and trees—like yellow forsythia, white flowering pear trees, and the gorgeous magenta pink tulip trees with their cup-shaped blossoms.
In April more flowers begin to appear … and in Knoxville this is the month when the Dogwood Arts Festival begins. This annual festival has been going on in Knoxville since the 1950s when several Knoxville communities, with a lot of dogwood and redbud trees, created “Dogwood Trails” to showcase their neighborhoods. Driving along the blazed trails, you could enjoy all the trees, daffodils, tulips, and other blooming flowers and shrubs. Over time, getting into the spirit of the event, people all over Knoxville began to plant even more dogwoods, redbuds, and blooming trees. In 1970, the Dogwood Arts Festival started, and the entire month of April is now spotted with art-related and cultural events. One of the original dogwood trails winds through my old South Knoxville neighborhood where I grew up and several others are located close to the West Knoxville neighborhood where I live now—especially the Sequoyah Hills trail that opened in 1955. One of my other favorite April flowering trees on this trail, in addition to the dogwoods, are the Kwanzan cherry trees with their pink, fluffy, double blooms.
I think April is the richest time for flowers. So many varieties begin to pop out in this month. Every day when I take my walks around the neighborhood I see more shrubs, trees, and flowers in bloom and I love watching the trees grow greener and more lush every day. Tulips, creeping phlox, iris, candytuft, and even some early pansies begin showing off in April and, in the Smoky Mountains and rural woods and fields, the wildflowers begin to appear, bringing tourists flocking to our mountains with their cameras, eager to see the trillium, wild violets, bloodroot, lady’s slippers, and other beauties.
The month of May brings even more spring flowers and more spring events. I remember May Day celebrations at school when I was a girl, with the May pole and various outdoor contests and events. To me the end of April and early May are always “Azalea Time, ” too, and the azaleas have been glorious this year. No freezes came in Knoxville to nip their early buds and I don’t think I have ever seen the azalea more beautiful—and in so many different colors … pinks, white, reds, salmon, lilac, and magenta. More outdoor yard work begins in May, too, as many people around East Tennessee start putting in their gardens and planting more flowers to enjoy, feeling safe, at last, from the chance of freezes and more cold snaps.
I worry that we’ve become too much a sedentary world … not getting out to see the beauty of springtime and nature, no longer walking the trails in local parks, or even around the neighborhoods where we live to see all the flowers, to stop and study them, sniff their perfume, enjoy their beauty. Before May is over—and spring is past—get out to enjoy the beauty of this time of year. There is a rich sense of hope that touches you in the spring, a sense that more is possible. L.M. Montgomery wrote: “Nothing seems impossible in spring.” And whenever we see flowers coming back after a harsh cold winter it breeds hope in us, too. If you’ll let it, spring will make your heart sing with new hope and vision. I love Robert Orben’s words: “Spring is God’s way of saying, One more time!” … Blessings to you.
See you in June…
Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act