“What a glorious day!” I exclaim for the fourth time in less than an hour. Springtime is here. Blue sky, sunshine, warm days. Although it’s usually impossible for me to decide on a favorite anything (book, movie, dessert), I can easily say that spring is my favorite season. And I say it a lot.
“Just feel that sunshine,” I order anyone who happens to be outside with me. “Isn’t it fabulous?” My eyes are closed, my face tilted upward, my arms outstretched. It’s almost a religious posture.
The grass is getting greener every day. Crocuses and daffodils are blooming. I have purple and pink hyacinths by my front door. At least once a day I get down on my hands and knees, awkwardly lean out over the flower bed and drink in some of their smell.
And any moment now the forsythia is going to burst open. I love forsythia. (My kids are rolling their eyes.) I love those long, willowy fingers of golden yellow, pointing towards heaven and their Creator. It makes me cringe when people curb its wild growth, trimming it into a neat, boxy-looking hedge. The little bits of yellow that manage to survive this massacre just don’t show up like they were meant to. Over the years I have schooled my family on this subject. It’s been pretty easy with the kids. If you’re brought up from birth with a certain idea, it has a good chance of sticking. I’m pretty sure none of my kids will ever dare to take a hedge trimmer to a forsythia bush. They think it’s a commandment. I worry a little about my husband though. He’s a trimmer by nature. He gets it from his parents. They’ve maintained a beautifully shaped hedge alongside their front walk for decades.
I’ve learned to watch for the forsythia. It used to catch me off guard every year, seeming to erupt all at once overnight. But now I watch for it. And it’s about to happen.
I’ve been known to take members of my family on what I call mystery walks or mystery rides in the car in order to show them something I want them to see. The first time I did this the kids were so excited. Of course, they’d convinced themselves and each other that it was Chuck E. Cheese’s that I wanted them to see. Their little bottoms bounced on the seat as we turned in the opposite direction from Chuck E. Cheese’s.
“She’s just trying to trick us!” they exclaimed to each other. “We’re really going to Chuck E. Cheese’s!”
You can imagine their reaction when we arrived at my destination: the building site of a new large and beautiful house of worship (L.D.S. temple) our church was building. I had honestly thought it would be really fun for them to see the progress that was being made. They all bawled. And I got mad. Needless to say it was a big disappointment. To all of us. But some good did come of it. Now, when it comes to Mom’s mystery rides, their expectation level is really low. So low, in fact, that once in a while they actually enjoy it a little more than they thought they would. Naturally they’d never admit this.
Often the object of my mystery ride is to view an exceptionally grand specimen of something growing somewhere. Like a forsythia bush. One midsummer day I told my daughter to get in the car.
“I want to show you something,” I told her.
“Mom, it’s a forsythia bush, isn’t it?’ she said accusingly. “I know it’s a forsythia bush.”
“How ridiculous,” I told her. “Forsythia isn’t even in bloom this time of year.” She visibly relaxed.
“Well, I know it’s going to be something dumb,” she assured me.
“I have never taken you to see anything dumb,” I defended myself.
We pulled up in front of a yard that looked quite ordinary, except for the absolutely giant free-standing rose bush in the middle of the front lawn. It was as tall as the garage and was covered with dinner plate-sized pink roses. Okay, maybe salad plate. She rolled her eyes at me and sighed, but I could tell she was impressed.
I’ve been keeping a close eye on all of my favorite forsythia bushes around town and today is the day. Spring has officially arrived. And this year, I even have a forsythia bush of my own. We planted it in the backyard last summer.
A few weeks ago I was talking on the phone about forsythia with my sister who lives in Virginia.
“You can cut branches and bring them in the house and force them to bloom early, you know,” she informed me.
“Oh yeah? Well, not if your bush only has six wisps!”
Maybe over the years my forsythia will spread into hundreds of untamed fingers of yellow blossoms. If I can just restrain my husband. Last summer I mentioned to my mother-in-law that Kent had planted a forsythia for me. Her response: “Well, just make sure he keeps it trimmed.”