When I was in the 11th and 12th grades, I pushed out of my shell a bit and randomly decided to join the high school musicals those years. (You didn’t have to audition unless you wanted a solo or something. You just had to show up.) They were revues, with vague decade-based themes, I think. As a result, I know all the words to a lot of strange and ancient songs.
One of those songs was “Mame,” which had a line about her making the magnolia trees blossom at the mention of her name. The line actually felt like it had an extra syllable or two and needed to be sort of swung to track properly, but I mention it because it was the first time I became aware that there was such a thing as a magnolia tree. I had still never seen one, mind you, but I was now aware of their existence.
I gave these trees no other thought for the next decade or so. And then I moved into a neighborhood where some clever soul had decided to plant hundreds of them.
Now, maybe, like me for the first quarter-century of my life, you have never seen one of these trees. To be fair, for most of the year, they are pretty standard and tree-like. But for a few weeks in March and April, they bloom and it’s the most wonderful thing. Because the branches are really twiggy and flimsy-looking, but the flowers are gigantic. They’re like these big ivory or pink handkerchiefs magically balancing on these really slender branches in this way that looks like they defy gravity.
I’m not a big nature person but this, this slays me every single time I see it. I can’t seem to help talking about it either, and since the person I tend to be with when I see them is my husband, he’s a little bored of hearing about them and has gotten a titch sarcastic in his responses:
Me: Which ones do you like better, the white ones or the pink ones?
Him: [Apparently stricken] How can you choose between your children?
Me: [Squinting suspiciously] Mmmm.
Here is what magnolia trees have done for me: they have made spring a season with value of its own.** I used to consider it only the season that told me that winter would end and soon we would have summer. Now though, it’s magnolia season!
**Unofficial seasons in Stephanie Land:
- Season that has Christmas in it.
- Magnolia season.
- Season that has my birthday in it.
- Back to school season. (Even though I don’t go to school anymore and haven’t for years.)