Monday, April 12, 2010

Barking Dogs

It’s the first thing everyone notices. “What is that?” they ask. There have been some strange guesses - magnolia, camellia, banana - banana? Seriously?

It’s Eddie’s White Wonder, aptly named, for it is the most wonderful dogwood. It is fast growing for a dogwood. It blooms for about four weeks in the late spring, the flowers unfurling from tight green buttons. At first they’re a creamy yellow, then dazzling white as they get bigger and bigger. 

Soft green leaves all summer, then a blaze of red in the fall lasting weeks, (the red leaves make great placecards, our dinner guests’ names written on them in gold) and a fine gray skeleton in winter, full of interesting twists and turns. Sometimes it even makes a few brilliant crimson berries. Sometimes it gets confused and blooms again in the fall. And even when it’s bare it has those tight buttons that are next year’s flowers and a wonderful sculptural form, its small twigs pointing upward and laughing at the storms.

The birds like it too - a few years ago we had a hummingbird nest in a crook of one tree. Much to our surprise - and hers - she built her nest at chest height. By the time we both figured it out she had laid two tiny perfect eggs, and was still as a mouse atop them when we walked by. 

We tried to remember to go around, not always successfully. In a few weeks the babies were flapping awkwardly out into the world. Some other hummingbirds came and recycled bits and pieces of the nest until it was just a rag in the tree. But we smile when we walk by that dogwood, remembering the teeny nest and the hummingbird so still and so close. 

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