Spring in Empire


On Tuesday, we got a short reprieve from the rain, and when I walked down to check on the bees, things looked different down toward the barn. The green leaves of the tulip poplar trees made the sky seem even bluer. Springtime has arrived here in Empire.

That evening, we sat on the sofa watching the weather people chattering about storms coming out of Mississippi. We stayed up past our bedtime watching, but the weather gods must have gotten bored because the storms moved off to the east. 

This morning as we drank coffee, a ruby-throated hummingbird zipped, dipped, and sipped sugar water from the feeders. 

Later, when I stepped down to get the morning paper, I noticed that the dogwoods in our yard had decided to make their debut. The blossoms looked as if they’d been carved from bone. The buds had been on the cusp for days...taunting us. Na Na Na Boo Boo. But then, today, they unfolded. This is how I know it’s spring.

It was the dogwoods that made me fall in love with this farm 50 years ago. I’d heard that the owner wanted to sell seven acres with an old house and a barn. 

We were broker than the 10 Commandments back then, but when I told Jilda about it, she agreed that it wouldn’t hurt to look.

We parked the old Plymouth Valiant on the edge of the main road (if you could call it that) and walked to two hundred yards down the barn road. It was about this time of year. The redbud, wild honeysuckles, buckeye bushes, and the dogwoods were in bloom. It smelled like heaven in the hollow.

I’m not sure how long it took us to walk those two hundred yards, but neither of us said much though we did gasp a great deal. Just before we got to the barn, a covey of quail exploded in front of us. I almost had a hygiene issue right there. Jilda and I laughed so hard we had to sit on an old log and catch our breath.

By the time we returned to the car, we both knew that somehow, someway this place would be ours. I knew in my heart that we’d found a place that one day we’d call home.

It wasn’t a Hallmark moment, because it took time. Jilda’s dad was still working, and no one could pinch a dollar like he could. But, he knew the value of land. When Jilda and I rode with him back up to the farm, it was an easy decision for him and Ruby to buy the property.

I think he would have deeded the property to us that day, but he still wasn’t totally convinced that Jilda and I would stay together. I’m sure he believed we still had some growing up to do.

Later, when I’d proved my worth, they deeded us the land. It was a gift that we will never be able to repay.

I thought about that this morning when I realized the dogwoods were blooming. 

Walking around the tree, I searched for the perfect angle. The sun was just rising over the eastern horizon and doing what it does best in the morning – which is to show us that life is a circle going round and round.

Even during the darkest times, spring time comes, the sun rises, and the dogwoods bloom.

Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Goes On is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at rick@rickwatson-writer.com.