With my husband out of town for what seems like forever, I’m reduced to keeping up with local weather forecasts on my own.
So having done my homework before tuning in, I was surprised to be awakened at 2 a.m. last night by the far away sound of thunder. A silent minute later, deciding the thunder had been a vivid dream, I settled back into bed, to again hear what sounded like another rumble. A strong Oklahoma wind, 40 mph whipping down the plain fast, soon had my old windows humming and vibrating.
Then came the rain. And memories of twenty years of tropical storms I had experienced when living ten miles from the Texas coast were reawakened to rest along side me. Remembering the damage of tropical winds, I half expected to wake up a downed Magnolia tree in our backyard this morning. Soggy soil and strong wind proved a deady combination for many huge Texas trees. And our old Magnolia tree is not doing well.
In the last three year’s, our poor tree has been put through something akin to the tree world’s trials of Job. Its first three bruisings came compliments of the Oklahoma weather rollercoaster. Three yeasrs ago, our State was in the midst of a long drought. As luck woud have it, the drought was broken briefly the day we moved in, by a light Methodist sprinkle of water falling from the sky. Though not a Baptist dunking, it did a fine job of baptizing us into our new life in Mesta Park.
Our first summer proved a scorcher, with many broken record days of over 100 degree heat. And our poor old Magnolia just suffered since I didn’t know to give it a slow and long weekly drink. The following summer we experienced a monsoon, when the entire month of June was one big rainy day. Then six months later, we were crippled by freezing rain that ended up damaging and felling many old trees that in turn took out the neighborhood power lines. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the arrival of the Oklahoma National Guard in front of our house, who chainsawed and stacked the remains of a fallen limb, that once reached across the street from a neighbor’s gorgeous American Elm. The limb itself was large enough to completely cutoff traffic. Our Magnolia lost a few limbs and more than a few branches and like the other trees of the neighborhood, has looked a little crippled ever since.
Then last summer, as if the Oklahoma weather hadn’t done enough to kick this old tree around, we gave it another beating by beginning our backyard construction project, distrubing the tree’s root system. After the damage was done I learned that Magnolia’s, more than most, just hate to have their feet messed with. But so far, it lives.
May and June brings a lot of leaf drop on Magnolia trees in Oklahoma. And while everyday is a leaf drop sort of day for a Magnolia, the tree absolutley rains leaves four weeks a year, even without wind. This past week I’ve collected a full grocery sack every day. And the transformation has been incredible — two weeks ago our tree had so many off color leaves it looked sick with yellow fever, while today its mostly a waxy green shiny.
Magnolia leaf drop, which leaves a tree a little naked and exposed, is nature’s way of preparing the tree for its season of blooms. Beneath all those yellow leaves on my old tree, were creamy Magnolia blooms waiting for their moment in the sun. And I absolutely love Magnolia blooms. Even now, one is partially opened with a bee circling it madly, but kept from its vocation by the still strong Oklahoma wind.
I pray our tree will prove a survivor just like that one down the street at the Murrah Memorial. Two more years may tell whether its out of the woods. And in the meantime, I’ll just watch the blooms unfold and tend to the tree’s needs, as best as I can, as this old Job steels itself for another long hot summer. And while the tree wrestles with God for new life, I’ll just pick up its old cast-offs, offer it long and slow refreshing summer drinks, and let it soak in some Epsom Salts over the winter.
And unlike Job’s friends, I’ll attend its wounds in silence.