In front of our house, a grand old magnolia tree is in full bloom. Actually, it’s past full bloom now, dropping its pink-white petals in bursts like snowstorms, lining the walkways with hazardous beauty. Across the street, where an equally large tree blooms, a lady tripped and fell on the blossom-lined sidewalk. A neighbor called to warn us, and now Bigfoot goes out to shovel the magnolia snow every other day.
Our neighborhood is called Magnolia, and looking around, you would think it was named for these magnificent trees. But the truth is, it started as a mistake.
When Captain George Vancouver discovered the area in the 1700s, he noticed the bluff lined with madrona trees–another beautiful tree, with striking deep red bark; sadly, there are few left–but misnamed them “magnolias” in his ship’s log. The name stuck, and residents started to plant magnolia trees to make the neighborhood live up to its reputation. Surprisingly, these magnolia grandiflorae, grande dames of the American South, took to the northern clime and decided to stay.
Elsewhere in the neighborhood, cherries and rhododendrons are bursting with mouthwatering colors, and daffodils and tulips are popping up in gardens. We see an occasional wild daffodil along the trails in Discovery Park.
On sunny days, blooms and small new light green leaves give hope to the most hardened of cynics. When it rains, a scent of fresh grass fills the air.
Beautiful in its own right, spring presages the long sunny days of summer, a time when the Pacific Northwest shines like no other place on earth.
Here is Bigfoot’s unusual photo essay showing the brightness of spring emerging from winter’s den.
Click on the small photos to enlarge.