by Christine Baker
Some people’s favorite time of year is their birthday. Others love winter and Christmas morning best of all. Not me. My favorite time of the year is spring. In fact, you can call me a little biased, but I think springtime in Louisiana is one of the most beautiful places in the world. That is, if you can tolerate pollen counts that are off the charts.
I guess you could say I acquired this love from a life of somewhat self-imposed deprivation. As a sickly child, I don’t remember many springs outside. My excursions outdoors were kept to a minimum, especially when pollen season rolled around because of the “mucous yuck” and subsequent infections that were sure to follow.
But my life changed at eighteen years old when I moved onto the campus at USL, now ULL in Lafayette, Louisiana and became an immediate fan of flowers and springtime in Louisiana, despite the pollen and its effects on me.
I fell in love with a tall hazel-eyed Cajun and springtime on the live-oak lined campus when the azaleas were in full bloom. I’ll forever remember large bushes of flowers spread throughout the miles of sidewalks and roads in shades of white, pink and red amidst green leaves. I wore out many pairs of Keds sneakers walking and sometimes running to class under once top-cropped crepe myrtles, small trees that had grown full and magnificent once again with vibrant white, red and pink flowers that flitted to the ground in the spring winds. Those days of my youth are long gone, but every winter, when the sun sets early and the trees are naked and flowers are scarce, my hope builds in anticipation for what’s yet to come.
Having lived here in Central Louisiana now for over ten years, Louisiana’s springtime has yet to disappoint me. I have my own yard now and it’s filled with a wide variety of, you guessed it, azaleas, crepe myrtles and various arrays of flowers. Most of this area is, too. A quick drive to the Wild Azalea Trail in the Kisatchie National Forest in Woodworth, Louisiana or to the Garden District in Alexandria, Louisiana always makes my smile widen and my heart skip a beat. The spring colors are vivid and a wide variety of native plants shine in yards and businesses, almost smiling and waving at me as I pass by.
I think it’s fair to say I love spring. But I also love Louisiana. She’s a part of who I am. My life and my memories are here on her soil. Every year like clockwork, when her naked trees fill with new buds and various shrubs sprout to full growth with flowers and leaves, I remember all the past springs I’ve lived through and I wonder about the ones that are to come, and I have hope – a hope that tells my heart to keep waiting through winter’s dormancy. Louisiana’s springtime is worth the wait, even with the mucous yuck!