My husband would tell you I can be a princess with my preference for sparkling wine, a valet to carry my bags to my hotel room, and gourmet deserts but quite to the contrary, some of the simplest things give me the greatest joy. Just today, I got to experience two of those things in the same day. In the spring, there is about a 3-4 day period for each tree when it goes from little tiny greenish yellow buds to full on majestic, leafy splendor. When I see a tree that is just beginning this process, I get so excited. The tree starts with distinct, stark branches then moves to having a blur of yellow green on the tips with the branches much less visible. It creates the illusion that the tree is blurry where the buds have formed and reminds me of an impressionist painting of a tree. Then in just a matter of a couple of days, those buds become leaves and the branches disappear behind beautiful bright green leaves. The whole process is over. It won’t come again until the following spring. If I miss it, I feel like I have missed something important.
I knew I would miss that beautiful window in Alabama because we aren’t going to be visiting until mid April. On the plus side, we should be able to avoid the yellow tree pollen that covers every thing for about 2 weeks when the trees are budding. If you have never been to the South during these two weeks, you can’t possibly imagine what I am talking about. I did not experience it in Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, or Texas and it does not appear to be happening in Bordeaux. There is so much yellow/green pollen in the air that it coats the stairs, cars, railings, and benches. If you sit on a bench covered in the stuff with light pants, you will seriously regret it.
I have to spray my car down around the handles everyday before I open the door because I am so allergic to the stuff that my eyes will burn all day if it gets anywhere near my eyes. My fall allergies challenge my lungs but the spring allergies make my skin itch, my eyes burn, and my nose run. From a health perspective, I am pretty miserable during that time. I take allergy medicine twice a day and get allergy shots and still suffer during this 2 week period. Sad to admit but we can’t even open the windows to the house because everything will turn yellow. Even so, this period of time is in my top 5 moments of the year.
So earlier this week when I was wandering around the parks of Bordeaux looking for signs of spring, I was delighted to see trees beginning to bud. I made a point to walk different routes each day on my way to work before taking off for Birmingham to compare the differences between Bordeaux and Birmingham spring. Much to my delight, right outside my office, I was able to catch a picture of a tulip tree just getting ready to bloom. I have a tulip tree in my backyard in Birmingham but it usually blooms somewhere between Martin Luther King Jr Day and Valentine’s Day.
As I was making my way back to my son’s school to pick him up for his last day of school before his second two week vacances scolaire (aka 2 week spring break) the trees along his school were doing the same thing. Moment of joy 1. Then comes my second big moment of joy. I absolutely love the sound children make when they are let out of school. They scream and yell as they run out of the school doors. Together their voices make a sound that completely embodies release, joy, and raw excitement. I can actually feel the sound vibrating in my own body which makes me feel joyful. This sound occurs every day but on the day before a vacation starts, it is particularly acute. So there I was staring at the trees when the shrieking started. I had such a profound moment of joy that I almost forget to get a picture of my son scooting out of the building to memorialize his big departure.
So here we are. I am halfway through my time in Bordeaux and we are heading back to Birmingham so I can have meetings with colleagues. Although I know my son and husband are quite excited, I am a bit sad to leave Bordeaux even though it is only for 10 days. I want to see the rest of the trees explode into their final leafy glory. Luckily, I won’t miss all of the the Bordeaux blooms. There are many flowering shrubs and trees that won’t be ready until May or June but I will be missing the early ones. I am so grateful to have had my one moment surrounding by yellow/green blurry branches and the screams of delighted children.