Cherubims cuddled with the crabapple tree overnight and left it adorned with dark pink blossoms. The adornment won’t last much longer than the baby angels’ visit; wind and rain will send blossoms falling on to windshields, lawn and gravel.
The tree will return to its blandness — its thorny limbs cover for birds and its small apples a food source. Its limbs bend toward the ground and snare the lawn mower’s hat and sweatshirt in an unwanted embrace. The tree would be best removed and replaced with purple-blossoming lilacs.
A finch watches from a branch, upset about the mower’s constant roar. The driver’s mind wanders to Margot Kidder, Superman’s feisty love interest who died at age 69 on Mother’s Day. Breathtaking at the pinnacle of her career, bipolar disorder, a car accident that left her wheelchair-bound and grave financial problems made her into prime tabloid fodder.
The professional comeback proved her to be as tough as her Superman co-star Christopher Reeves. Reeves’ life was shortened by a horseback riding accident, which gave credence to the claim that a mortal jinx was linked to playing the caped crusader. The star of the 1950s TV series, George Reeves, died under mysterious circumstances in 1959.
The dandelions have transformed the west lawn into a yellow sea. Their natural beauty lasts little longer than a fortnight. Dandelions had inspired me to write a poem called “Dandelion Prison’’ to a long-ago sweetheart. It was a masterwork with twin themes of beauty and loneliness. Each word was kept or discarded based on its worthiness, but the poem made little positive impression.
Leon, a brother who tried things that most of his siblings were too timid to attempt, plucked dandelions to use as a base for dandelion wine, which he would brew in an unused downstairs bathtub. The alcohol content was high enough to send me spinning after half a glass. I would never drink more, but Leon had a great unquenchable appetite for it.
He rolled two cars on the gravel road and left our parents to make excuses. Sober for a week and on a bender for two, Leon lost his wife and the optimism needed to live to the full extent humans are meant to live. The fragile light that sustains us all had gone out the last time we visited over coffee more than a decade ago.
His ashes were buried in a space made by a post-hole digger. His son placed two full beer cans and a cigarette carton at the bottom. A few tears fell against my wishes — not so much because of his passing but because of the things that he could have done, but didn’t.
This is not meant as criticism — his presence is as close to me now as it was five decades ago when we played cow pasture ball together. Judgment should not be rendered based on our weaknesses, but on our noblest nature.
The lilacs — their arms entangled in a tight embrace — are close to blossoming. The purple flowers produce a sweet smell that tickles a slumbering spirit.
The flip phone makes its sound. It’s an older brother who wants to know if I’m coming along on the family’s annual fishing trip. I haven’t gone for a couple years now, mostly because I’m a gosh-awful at fishing and I’m uneasy on the water. There never seemed a need to learn how to swim.
“We want you to go,’’ he said. “This might be the last time we can do it together.’’
It was no idle concern. Two brothers are in their 80s with significant health issues. As for me, I’m too young to be old and too old to be young. I can’t let strokes dictate what can and can’t be done.
Leon will come up in our conversation and most likely the topic will end with laughter. Spring is a time for crabapple blossoms, dandelion dreams and a renewal of mind and spirit.