The synchronicity of spring

The 100+-year-old apricot tree at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site.

The 100+-year-old apricot tree at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site.

March 20, 2009 — the first day of spring. The lone apricot tree was just beginning to bloom, I didn’t have my camera with me, a frost was predicted, and I would be away for the next few days. I was sure that my ‘photo-op’ would be lost by the time I returned. But Tuesday morning I was greeted by the tree in full bloom, along with an overcast sky, which my photographer-sister assures me is actually preferable to Willie Nelson’s blue skies. So I got my pictures.

The poor tree is showing its age — it’s not telling, but it must be nearly 100 years old. Early this spring when the tree was still dormant, a visitor who ‘just happened’ to be a hobby orchardist took a few scions from the tree. He’ll try to propagate replicas of our historic fruit tree by grafting these cuttings onto appropriate rootstock. The perfect timing of his visit was the first instance of synchronicity.

The next came a few hours after I’d taken my pictures. While looking through copies of Selma’s scrapbooks, I came upon a letter she’d written to her friend and summertime neighbor, Mae Weinstein. She wrote on March 20, 1945, “I found the forsythia in full bloom. Our apricot tree burst into flower overnight. I do hope there will be no freeze to interrupt the flowering period. It is so early for my tree to be out. Generally the Shadbush comes first. It is still without a sign of blossom.”

So 64 years later, as I felt compelled to write about our apricot tree, we had nearly-identical seasonal conditions on the first day of spring (including no Shadbush in flower). I wonder what I’ll discover about the flowering quince, which is now just starting to open up? I’ve already noticed that its color is a near-match to the fresh coat of paint on the “House of the Singing Winds.”

Davie Kean is the master gardener at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site.