Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

April 6, 2003


Suddenly, spring is here, adorning our world with extravagant colors!


            Ah, springtime! What a glorious time of the year! Dead leaves are being pushed aside by colorful blossoms. Dismal brown colors are yielding to lush, green leaves.

            As I gaze out my study window, a myriad of extravagant colors are shouting, “Come alive, old man; enjoy us. We spring forth to remind you that new life is available to you too!”

            The daffodils are about ready to bless me. My roses are waking up, their luxurious green leaves hiding tiny rose buds. The lonely “Pop Corn” tree looks alive, its barren limbs crowded with green foliage.

            Azaleas, red, pink, and white, are enjoying their finest week. The lovely blossoms arrive so suddenly, and depart too soon. They are at their peak of color for such a short time that I dare not miss a moment of their brief visit.

            The azaleas, of course, seem to take turns blooming, so we can enjoy them for a few days longer. In our yard, the larger ones bloom first. I find myself talking to the smaller ones, inviting them to release their colors and share the fun.

            The day lilies are everywhere, though not blooming yet. My mother loved day lilies. She raised dozens of them, and prided herself in acquiring more and more of the different varieties.

            Over the years, she insisted that we take some home. So her day lilies were transplanted in the yards of more than a dozen homes where we lived. Mama’s flowers helped us to leave every yard more beautiful than when we found it.

            The small red Maple tree, which we planted, is now four or five years old, having sprung more than 30 feet into the sky. This week I hung on its limbs our two hummingbird feeders, and each day I look out eagerly awaiting the arrival of our first hummingbirds of the season.

            Are these little birds on their way to Maine or Canada? I do not know. If they like our food, will they stop by on their way back to Costa Rica? Beats me. However, I like to think that may be the case.

            Hummingbirds are fascinating. With two feeders available, two of these tiny birds will fight over one feeder. In doing so, they act much like people do.

            Sometimes I name the birds. I got this idea from a couple in Nashville. When we bought their home, they insisted that we agree to feed Pete and Pauline, two doves that had taken up with them. We enjoyed Pete and Pauline as long as we lived there.

            This is the time for the “oh so brief” appearance of the dogwood blooms. We have two dozen dogwood trees in our yard, the tallest of which are showing off just outside my window. One has grown so tall, underneath a large oak tree that I figure its limbs reach 40 feet into the air.

            One thing is for certain, spring would not be spring without the dogwoods in full bloom. And I never see dogwoods or azaleas anywhere without remembering how much we enjoyed them while living in Opelika. They are as beautiful there in the spring as anywhere in the world.

            Near our front door, we have a flourishing Chinese fringetree, given to us by our friends Betty and Judy Gingles in Opelika. Its scientific name is “Chionanthus retusus.” The reason I know that is that I have tried, in vain, to confirm this tree’s name as “Grancy Grey Beard.” My Mama called it that, and my wife does too.

            Actually, I have never heard anyone refer to this beautiful tree by the name “Chinese fringetree,” though that apparently is its real name.

            Whatever you call it, it is a gorgeous tree, when during late spring it produces snow white, fragrant flowers that cascade over the entire tree like a blanket.

            Dean and I decided to name it the “Gingles tree,” to remind us of Betty and Judy. When its lovely blooms burst forth, we will give thanks for the fragrance of friendship as we enjoy the fragrant, snowy flowers.

            Yes, dear friends, spring has suddenly appeared again. How marvelous to be alive, to see, to smell, and to enjoy the extravagances of the earth’s springtime! + + + +