Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

April 10, 2011


Once again the magnificent Gingles tree is in full bloom


          April – what a wonderful time to be alive!  The hummingbirds are back with us, darting back and forth among the dogwoods and the azaleas. Aw, springtime! I welcome the season with a heart full of joy!

          It is fun to name the hummers. Usually there are two flitting about nervously. One day they are Cecil and Joyce; the next day Ted and Ellen, Al and Suzanne or Grady and Celestra.

          But when doves arrive, they are Pete and Pauline. We bought a home from a couple in Nashville who made us promise to continue feeding their beloved doves, Pete and Pauline. It was a promise we enjoyed keeping. Yesterday seven doves enjoyed a dinner of seeds as they strolled in our backyard. I am sure they are great grandchildren of Pete and Pauline.

The Knock Out rose bushes are bursting with lovely red blooms. What a pure delight they are! We started with four bushes but they are so beautiful we kept adding more. Now we have about 20 and would love to increase that number to 40!  They require very little maintenance and provide beautiful roses for months.

The biggest azalea bush in our front yard was gorgeous last spring. It is not in full bloom yet so we keep wondering if it will match the splendor of last season. A picture of that azalea in all its glory hangs on our bedroom wall.

          The dogwoods and azaleas always remind us of Opelika in the springtime. They are as beautiful there as any place in the world. Precious are our memories of the sheer beauty of springtime in Opelika. Little wonder that it is one of America’s favorite retirement cities.

          Our Japanese Magnolia Tree, now four years old, has rewarded us with several lovely blooms. Now that I know it will survive in our yard I plan to plant another one near it – so it will not be lonely.

          Two camellia bushes are flourishing; pretty flowers will soon appear. Good it is that everything does not bloom at the same time.  The Crepe Myrtles, for example, bloom at just the right time, late summer when the spring flowers are spent.

           Three years ago I refused to butcher our Crepe Myrtles and just allowed them to grow. Some are quite tall, thirty feet high.  However, in January I changed my mind and whacked off the tops at about seven feet. Now they are budding out and getting ready to show their stuff in August. I did leave two standing tall. Will they grow to forty feet in height? I must wait to see what happens.  

          This year, with the help of my brother Seth, and my sons Steve and Tim, I prepared a raised garden with crossties provided by my nephew Anthony. The dirt was a gift from my neighbor Charles Williams. Seth scooped up Charles’ burn pile (leaves, trash, limbs) and it is rich, useful soil. The final load, however, even richer dirt, came from Seth’s old dump; big earthworms were growing in it!

One season without a vegetable garden was enough for me! I had to plant again! So the farmer within me is now watching the small plants grow and expecting a harvest of onions, peppers, tomatoes, beans, lettuce, squash, okra and even strawberries.

My good friend Wendell Wentz, an Alabama boy now living in Rockwall, Texas, sent me some pepper seeds of several varieties.  I am eager to see if I can grow Habanero Peppers; my wife will love them! Wendell also shared with me some Moonflower seeds, angels’ trumpet seeds, and a few Crinum Lily bulbs. The Crinum Lily is a subtropical plant that may not thrive in Alabama. It will be fun to see if all these plants will grow in Elmore County soil.

Dad would be proud of me though he would never have been satisfied with so small a garden. His gardens were often five acres or more. How Daddy loved to work a garden and produce vegetables he and Mama could can for the winter!

          Outside our front door the Gingles Tree is in full bloom. Though it is actually a Chinese fringetree, it is the Gingles Tree to us. It was a gift nine years ago from our friends Betty and Judy Gingles, two beautiful people who once graced our lives. The fragrance of the snowy, white flowers of the tree remind us of the even more wonderful fragrance of friendship – a precious gift and one of our treasures.

          Winter is past! Spring has arrived! Father God has given Mother Nature the freedom to bless us with the glorious extravagance of the earth’s springtime.  What a marvelous time to be alive! Enjoy it to the full while it lasts!   + + +