I was mostly convinced the peonies had said to heck with it this year.
Our cold, lingering, semi-winter had them confused. Choose your object of blame: climate change, sunspots, the alignment of the stars, the fact that weather and weather patterns just happen, whatever.
Daffodils and crocuses come early and promise spring, even if it’s still 42, grey, drizzly and blah. But lilacs and peonies, coming a little later, tell us the sweet days of late spring are at hand, when a good year brings plenty of sunny, 72 and lush green.
And now at last, the peonies are blooming. I’ll never have quite the intuition or skill with plants that my mother had, or her mother had, but the brief red, white and pink bloom of the humble peony gives me a sense that Earth has made its way around the sun one more time and might make it another time or two.
I sense the unease and have heard the same grumble you have: Geez, we seem to have gone straight from winter to summer. What’s the darn deal? What happened to spring?
To which I reply: Don’t be a druid. As Ben might have said to Luke, the calendar can deceive you, so don’t get too hung up on it.
We are not promised 91 days of spring any more than the calendar can assure us that all 91 days of official fall will be cool, dry and perfect for hayrides and s’mores. Seasons come and go, in their own time. Enjoy the pleasures of each. They will not last.
Last fall, I needed to plant new tulip bulbs. I bought them but got caught up in getting ready for a trip out west. Departure day came, and I said to my wife that these bulbs are my gum going into the ground – today – because it’s October and when we get back it could be, I don’t know, 47 below. We dug and planted. I think she thinks she married a crazy person.
Several weeks ago they shot up out of the ground. Pretty impressive, really. Then a long, lovely row of red flowers. Just as planned.
By now it was late April, and we went out of town for a week. When we came back, every one of them had dropped every petal. Well, beautiful while they lasted.
Winter straight to summer? Feels like it, but I say hold on to every fair day we can and enjoy it for what it is. The lilacs and peonies will fade, and July and August will come soon enough. They have their joys, too, but not quite like Missouri in May.
-- Jeff Fox is on Twitter with the handle @FoxEJC.