This morning I awoke to a cold gray sky. Looking out my second story bedroom window, I glimpsed the bare limbs of the gray, empty trees. What a great week for Spring Break, I said to myself. The weatherman is even calling for snow today and tomorrow.
Brrrr… I think this is redbud winter. That just means we have more (dogwood, locust, blackberry) winters to come.
Closer to the ground, however, there are signs of spring everywhere. They come in fits and spurts, buds popping out on the warm sunny days that we have had, and halting their growth on the days like today. Those shoots are probably asking themselves, “What was I thinking, coming out so soon?”
Henbit is one such plant. It jumps to the forefront when the days start to lengthen and become warm. It is such a pretty little plant, I have often wished it could grow bigger. I love the magenta hues and the frilly shape.
But I think its enthusiasm is its own worst enemy. By appearing so early in the season, it makes itself susceptible to the freezing temperatures and gray sunless days. Then, frostbitten and stunted, it spends the rest of its short life looking brown and used up and old.
It loses its youth and potential before it ever has a chance to grow and mature into something showy with a bigger impact. Left to live out its remaining days robbed of color, close to the ground, overtaken by more aggressive sorts, henbit comes to be thought of as a weed to get rid of as fast as we can. If only it arrived later, blending in with other hues and keeping its former glory, it might stand a better chance.
Then again, maybe it does just what it is supposed to do.
I get excited every year when it makes its first appearance, knowing spring really is on its way. And that is good to know on a day like today, as I sit here watching the hail that is bringing the colder clouds filled with springtime snow.