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Aged are young again in spring

POSTED: April 6, 2014 1:30 a.m.

A friend of ours gave us a ginkgo tree this winter. I painstakingly planted it with a big enough hole and lots of good soil and fertilizer. It has little green buds and is ready to make its debut any day.

It sits in the shadow of the old maple that has been dying for years. Once again this year, the old tree has brought forth a respectable showing of new leaves. Parts of it are as dead as a doornail, but I’m not quite ready to cut it down.

The old tree is somewhere north of 70 years old. It was planted by our late neighbor, Claude Bagwell, along with four or five other maples. Sadly, they are all showing signs of old age.

On days when it is warm, I take my stepdog, Buttons, out to walk among the trees. She is approaching 17 and is blind and deaf. Her steps are tentative and uncertain. She also cannot remember the way back to the house and will either freeze in place or walk in circles when she gets frustrated.

According to all of the charts, 17 in dog years equates to 119 in people years. If she were a person, Willard Scott would have had her on a jelly jar for the past couple of years.

Sometimes when we are out in the yard, folks walk by with much younger dogs. They bark a friendly greeting, but in her world of darkness and silence, Buttons is oblivious to the visitor waiting just a few yards away.

The old maple can’t see the young ginkgo, but in a few weeks, the new tree will be waving at the old, as if to say, “Look at me, old tree.”

I love the start of spring. The bright greens that appear on the lawn and in the trees and shrubbery are like a welcome mat for the new season.

But standing in contrast are the old dog and old tree. I look at them and wonder if this will be the last spring for both.

The old dog cannot see the coming of spring, but she clearly smells the freshly mowed grass and seems content to enjoy her moments in the warmth of the sun. The tree looked like it was a goner, but then, just a few weeks ago, the buds started popping. It isn’t pretty or stately, but I can’t bring myself to call a tree cutter to bring down the final curtain.

I love this season, despite the fact that it generates something that makes me sneeze like crazy. I’ll gladly pay that price in exchange for the beauty.

In the next few days, one of the most beautiful sights of spring will appear on our TV sets, when the Masters takes place in Augusta.

This winter, a horrendous ice storm was tough on the old course, but those magicians who work there will have every tee, green and fairway looking like a picture postcard.

There are a lot of pictures of Georgia that are beamed across the country in a variety of so-called “reality” shows. There is nothing more realistic and beautiful than Augusta National Golf Club, and watching its springtime show never gets old.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.


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