The surest signs of spring

I was driving along the Susquehanna when I noticed one of the surest signs of spring, a big Red Tractor pulling a five-bottom plow across one of the fields which lay along the floodplain. Because I enjoy watching such things I stopped the truck, grabbed the camera, and stood along the road. As I watched, it occurred to me that I come by such behavior honestly for I remember that my Dad used to enjoy spending an afternoon at the airport to experience the simple pleasure of watching planes come and go. I don’t know why I enjoy watching as a tractor hauls a plow, a harrow, a cultipacker, a haybine, a rake, or a baler back-and-forth, but I do. What has always impressed me most about spring plowing is how dark, rich, and fertile the soil looks when it is freshly-cultivated and turned upside-down towards the sun. I ran along the road to get myself in position to compose and capture an image which would include the tractor, the implement, and the widening expanse of black earth. That image has now become just another in the lengthening queue which is my WordPress media library. The image must wait, for it has been displaced by others in a series, captured yesterday, which highlight yet another of the surest signs of spring … the Magnolia. Joanna has observed that, just as they are beautiful, the blooms of these trees appear to be especially vulnerable to vagaries of the weather of early spring, especially the cold, wind, and rain … in combination. These trees flower profusely with the drama and color that you would expect of a botanical Prima donna. Given that the weather promised to deteriorate toward the end of the week I grabbed my camera and struck out to spend some time with these beauties. The images show a pair of blooms, the brilliant flush of color at the base of the petals, and the reproductive structures found deep within the protective whorl. Joanna tells me that the architecture of the flower parts indicates that the Magnolia is primitive. She says that ancient Angiosperms, such as this, have multiple pistils (female parts, in the center here) and multiple stamens (male parts, at the periphery) arranged in concentric whorls. More recent forms are characterized by a fusion of parts such that there are fewer of each in any particular plant. Besides their botanical interest, these trees are simply a wonder to behold. Beautiful, delicate, and ephemeral. There is rain forecast for tomorrow afternoon and into the night. I would guess that the tree below will look a bit worse-for-wear when it is over. I am glad to have had the chance to observe this beauty at the height of its splendor. Click any of the gallery images below for a larger view.

11 thoughts on “The surest signs of spring

  1. Everything is quite late here this spring. The first leaves are only just peeking, maybe next week. The nice thing about it is that the bulbs and flowering trees aren’t all just blowing and passing. It’s a slow emergence. And also that the fruited trees crops are unscathed at some very cold frosts at night. But we are all eager for softer earth for gardening here in Southern Vermont. Nice that there haven’t been flies yet, but I think this year I might rejoice at seeing them! Your photos are just gorgeous. Wish I had a Magnolia tree. They are exquisite! Enjoy your beautiful surrounds, tell Joanna “Happy Mother’s Day” for me!

    • 8 boys and 3 girls … two years in a row? Certainly the Law of Averages should be pulling you more toward girls! The very first year we put our ewes out to breed to produce pure shetlands I believe we had 8 boys … period! Ugh. That’s no way to start a breeding program. I’m sure those girls are as pretty as can be though. Congratulations. D

  2. Very intriguing images – the one showing the stamina in detail looks like a painting! Are magnolias growing in the wild where you live? In Austria they are somewhat popular to have them in your garden. Since the plant a such a diva and difficult to cultivate, having one is showing-off your skills as a gardener šŸ˜‰

    • Nope … they’re cultivated here to! They are so delicate though. We’ve had a couple of light rains since I took those photos and all the flowers are already ‘browning off.’ Thanks, as always, for checking in Elke. D

  3. Beautiful images. As you might guess there are no Magnolias here, but we do have some icebergs and, soon, pods of whales. I totally get what you said about watching tractors. Here, I find myself drawn to the windows, just watching the ebb and flow of life in and around the harbour. Watching the fishing boats and offshore supply vessels come and go, load and unload. Each day that it’s fit (any “fit” includes anything except all-out rain driven by gale-force winds) I make the 15 minute walk up to the lighthouse and, standing just by it, take a look out over the Atlantic, watching the sea, shore and sky. Most days I have to tear myself away.

    • It’s funny you should ask … I’ve never really thought of that before. As Joanna points out, however, I had my face stuck right up close to them for a couple of hours and cannot now remember any distinct scent … so, I suppose the answer is ‘no.’ Joanna also points out that the very ancient angiosperms evolved well before the hymenoptera … she believes these trees may be beetle-pollinated. Apparently beetles don’t rely on their sense of smell to locate flowers! Thanks for checking in. D

  4. The Magnolia is a truly beautiful tree, the flowers look almost unreal, waxy. They do suffer terribly with the frost here, turning brown around the edges. You’ve captured this one in all it’s splendour šŸ™‚

    • Yes indeed … I was concerned about what the nasty weather promised for the end of the week might mean for these individuals. Even if the weather were to remain fine, the petals seem to turn brown at their edges as the blossoms mature. I was happy to capture this tree at its peak. D

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