Thursday, February 17, 2011

Witch Hazel

Today is February 17th.  It's unseasonably warm.  It's been winter so long that I feel like an alien visiting from another planet, walking around in a climate that I've never experienced before.

And so it's not surprising that today, I saw the first official blossoms of 2011. Near the National Cathedral on Woodley Road are about three Witch Hazels (Hamamelis Japonica) in bloom.

I'm sure I walked by the same plants a few days ago and saw nothing.  If I felt like waxing poetic about this phenomenon I'd say to us all, "Chin up!  Don't lose hope over something that looked dead yesterday...you never know what a little warm sunshine can do."  But I'm not feeling that poetic, so let's move on...

This shrub is one of the first plants brave enough to bloom each year.  Its tiny yellow petals look like streamers on a skinny pom pom and they make you look twice because its so shocking to see a color other than brown in February.   A certain temperature, a certain angle of the sun says, "It's time to come out!"  Without a guarantee that the frosty days have departed, they follow their Instincts and take the first warm day to show us what they've got.

Witch Hazels don't just delight the eye, they also give off a lovely fragrance that reminds us that spring is a reality.  Life will not always be callous and cold or at least if it is, it will sometimes smell good and have pretty flowers...

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