Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Magnolia Time

There is no flowering tree
that evokes romantic notions of the antebellum South
quite the way the magnolia can.
Whether the magnolia virginiana or the magnolia grandiflora
or any of the other more than 200 species of the tree, 
almost everyone swoons over the unforgettably fragrant perfume
of a magnolia flower in bloom.

Throughout the year,
the leaves are a leathery and glossy green,

but around mid-May to early June here in the Shire,
and other southern places,
the slender, ovate flower buds become visible:

It doesn't take long for the flowers to open fully.
And they reward those who have waited for them
with a perfume worthy of Eden, Nirvana, and Jannah.
But they only last a little while.
Like long-forgotten southern mansions,
their beauty remains, if a bit shabby at the edges:

I think the reason towns from California to Colorado,
Arkansas to Virginia, Texas to Minnesota and more
have taken the name Magnolia
is because people want to associate themselves
with its unique presence and reliable beauty.
And it is a nostalgic flower, reminiscent of times past--
times when it seemed easier to claim certitude about life and the way to live it.

For all the reasons people love the magnolia,
whether for moonlit fantasies or fabled Southern charms,
Creamy white magnolia flowers are a sweet reward for living in the South.


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