31. March 2005 · Comments Off on Rites of Spring · Categories: Domestic, General

Late March, April and May are, with all votes counted, the hands-down winner for loveliest time of year in South Texas and the Hill Country: the temperatures are mild and temperate and the rains are frequent enough to turn everything green… or all of that which is not in multi-colored and glorious bloom. The redbud trees are covered with blossoms that are actually not really red, but more of a very dark fuchsia-pink, and there is an ornamental pear or almond tree in the front yard of a house at the top of the street which has been veiled in pure white blooms for the last two weeks. The weeping willows were the first to put on new, delicate green leaves, followed by the ubiquitous Arizona “trash” trees.

In my garden, the new leaves on the mulberry tree have grown to the size of a small child’s hand in the last three or four days, while the wisteria has put forth mightily during the same time. I neglected pruning the wisteria this fall, so it there are not as many bunches of pale violet blooms this year as last, but the Spanish jasmine vine on the back porch is covered with little star-white clusters. In the morning and the late afternoon the scent of the jasmine hangs thick and sweet, mingled with that of the almond verbena’s almost invisible bracts. The bees bustle around waxy clusters of blossom on the dwarf Meyer lemon and lime trees, while Bubba-from-down-the-road lounges on the sun-warmed stones of the path after having eaten his fill. The most recent cat, who for my purposes is nick-named Parfait, is more interested in the flutter of birds around the feeders hanging from a branch of the mulberry tree, and crouches alertly in the untrimmed winter-ryegrass. Parfait, alas, has no hope of ever catching a bird, since he cannot keep his tail from twitching…. And they are well out of his reach anyway.


(Wisteria in bloom, in my garden)

There is a mad rustle of wings, and much excited twittering in the vicinity of three hanging feeders, around sunrise and sunset, but the birdsong is accompanied these days by the constant tap of hammers driving nails into wood, coming from the roof of a house just down the street. I think of the sudden hailstorm three weeks ago as the “Spring Creek Roofing & General Contracting Full Employment Act of 2005”, for every house in the development needs a new roof; if not now, within six months or a year when the damaged asphalt tiles being to leak water into the house. Lawn signs for seven or eight local companies are sprouting in lawns, three or four in a row sometimes.

Three or four houses already have their new roofs complete, the same number are in progress. It is a hazard in the morning sometimes, dodging a small dump truck, or a pickup truck towing a trailer full of new roofing felt and shingles, or carrying away the ruined waste of the old. The nearest roof-in-progress is five doors away from mine, next to the home of the roofing contractor himself; his own roof is as damaged as anyone else’s, but he figures have his crew do his neighbors’ first. I am waiting for his estimate on mine, and will probably accept it. He has been a fairly good neighbor— although Judy, who is a soft touch for animals— thinks he leaves his dog alone too long during the day. Of the houses along my block, two-thirds of them are the homes of single women, or single parents, but Texas is one of the places where chivalry is not yet on life-support. For a woman to develop sudden car trouble, or house trouble, or even be wrestling with an outsized burden in a public place is to suddenly have any number of rescuers, striding forth with a confident manly swagger, and a John Wayne-ish growl of “Hey, little lady, let me take care of that for you!” The roofing-contractor neighbor is just that sort— he’ll do us right, I am sure. And in the meantime, the garden is in bloom.

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