Letter from Birdland: Flowers aren't the only things sprouting quickly
In Birdland, the skies are gray, but the drizzle enriches the color. Tulips have added their pinks, reds and oranges, and even whites to the daffodils' yellow. The little redbud tree holds its pink close to the dark brown of the wood, with no intervening leaves. The ornamental quince sprinkles its shell-like flowers amongst the new greenery.
All this is set in the emerald green of the yard, feathery growth sparkling with pearls of rain. When the sun comes out, these pearls will sparkle like diamonds. If we get a dry day, soon I will need to pull my little lawn mower out of the garage.
This weekend, I got to see flowers of another kind when I went to Promenade, our small-town ceremony of pomp and ruffles before the big dance. Do other towns do this?
A few hours before the dance, the whole town, it seems, gathers to watch our children parade through a festive backdrop (this year's theme was jazz) and to hear their names announced. They paraded down the red carpet mostly in couples, but also other arrangements, like trios, and one singleton, who gleefully jumped up and clicked his heels.
It did my heart good to see that our youngsters didn't feel constrained to the usual pairings. They came in sequins and ruffles and sparkles and coats and ties and at least one set of tails.
And, of course, the flowers. One young woman held a single stem with a flower the size of a baby's head. It was an ornamental artichoke, with muted colors that just matched her gown. Others had corsages tied around the wrist with a ribbon. Just lovely. Ellis and his date had peace lilies with a small row of rhinestones lining the very edge of the flower. She held her stem, while his was pinned to his lapel.
This was the first year my youngest had consented to walking the red carpet. He was a bit shocked when I told him I had been in the audience before. "You went when I wasn't even there?" He sounded a little hurt. "Well, I had to see Eli and his friends wearing kilts, didn't I?" He nodded, his petulance evaporated.
Even though I could never convince Ellis to honor his own Scottish heritage in a similar fashion (which would have made his great grandmother smile down at him, her own mother being of Clan Harris), he knew I could not miss that chance one year, to see his soccer buddies sporting tweed.
This weekend, I sat knitting in the audience, watching all the young people who had been toddlers just last week or so, looking so grown up and bursting with the fresh cockiness of youth. I choked up a little as I waited to see my own little guy parading proudly with a lovely, sweet girl.
Afterward, a parade of cars drove to a neighbor's house for photos. A group of friends posed for pictures with a lovely green backdrop of large stones. Each couple took their turn on an old-fashioned plank swing with ropes hanging from high in a tree. Parents and grandparents mingled in the background, taking turns snapping pictures. Then the old folks went home while the youngsters went out into the magical evening.
This morning I walked quietly into a drizzle-soaked campus, watching for all sorts of blessings of flowers.
Magnolia has peaked, pink blossoms lying sodden on the wet sidewalks, some still clinging to their stems.
A deciduous pine is sending out tiny new green bristles next to the Natural History Building.
As I climb the steps to the English Building, I walk beneath the flowering crabs, blossoms just opening. I think again on those blossoming young people walking down the red carpet in stately array.
I'm thinking about another solemn ceremony not too far in the distance, one where I won't be able to hold back tears. In less than a month, we'll see many of the same youth, my own youngest included, listen for their names to be called as they parade on to the next stage of their lives.
Walk in beauty; bloom in peace; blessed be.
Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She is watching with interest as the parade of young people makes their way into the wide world. You can read more about Birdland and see photos at http://www.letterfrombirdland.blogspot.com. Mary can be reached at email@example.com or via snail mail care of this newspaper.