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  • Writer's pictureBethany Plonski

Sticky Little Leaves

You know how passages from your favorite books can stick with you over time? In spring I always think of what Ivan says about the "sticky little leaves" in The Brothers Karamazov:

Though I do not believe in the order of things, still the sticky little leaves that come out in the spring are dear to me, the blue sky is dear to me. . . Sticky green leaves, the blue sky -- I love them, that's all! Such things you love not with your mind, not with logic, but with your insides, your guts...

There's a lot to unpack in that passage, but mostly I love the way it encapsulates the undeniable joy of spring. No matter how worn down we feel by winter, it's hard not to feel buoyed up when spring arrives with all its evidence of renewal and rebirth. And what better image to associate with that renewal than sticky little leaves!

I've been pressed for time lately, but while I have a moment I wanted to share some images of my favorite early bloomers. Many of them have come and gone already, which is another thing about spring. You have to be watchful to catch the best of it. Some of its most beautiful displays last only a matter of days. The redbud and forsythia shown below have already traded their blossoms for leaves.

Redbud blossoms
Redbud, one of my favorite native trees

Forsythia flowers

In Georgia, forsythia flowers can be seen as early as January some years. There's even an old saying, "Three snows after the forsythias bloom," because their blossoms come so early.

Forsythia flowers

Pollen season is in full swing now, and in Georgia it is quite an event. For weeks, the pine trees have been producing pollen cones and getting ready to blast everything around us with chalky yellow dust. The pollen is really starting to accumulate now, so I'm sure that will make some interesting photos soon.

Loblolly pine with pollen cones
Pine with pollen cones

Carolina sweetshrub
Carolina sweetshrub, another early blooming native

Spring is also full of surprises, like the white oak, whose new leaves are actually a beautiful red-orange color when they first unfurl. Since we humans usually associate red and orange leaves with fall, it might seem like the poor oak trees are confused, but the red tint is actually a pretty clever strategy that helps protect the vulnerable new leaves from insects, cold, and sun damage.

New white oak leaves
Quercus alba

I'm so grateful for all the joys of spring. Three cheers for the sticky little leaves!


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