In the city, everything is coming up green, but further north and rural, we see mostly purple and gray. No school-box Crayola Spring Green or Fern for us. Native Oklahoma redbuds (Cercis canadensis) dot the countryside with color where they stand against charcoal gray, scrub oaks. The oaks don’t trust our warm weather. They’ve been fooled before.
As I write, dark gray storm clouds gather overhead, and raindrops splatter outside my open windows. We had fierce storms last night that spawned nighttime tornadoes (the most dangerous kind) at 1:00 a.m. They danced all around my house, one coming within three tenths of a mile. Another hit part of Edmond causing damage, but no one was hurt.
I was asleep and heard nothing until the one land-line telephone we still own rang downstairs. HH and I woke and discovered we’d lost power. Losing electricity isn’t unusual where we live. With the storms raging outside, I knew if someone was calling at 2:00 a.m., there must be a tornado nearby. We grabbed our travel television and went to the car in the garage to see what we could see. The tornado had passed us by. We are finally investing in a weather radio. HH is buying one today.
More severe weather is expected this afternoon and evening. Does it worry me? Nah. I’m a lifetime Oklahoman. I have my own “fraidy hole.” Like everyone else in the state, I watch the weather for sport this time of year. Handsome meteorologists, possessing enough stage presence for Shakespeare, use HD doppler radar and human storm chasers to spot lowering wall clouds and twisters. You can even get live, streaming, storm information if you so desire. In the spring, weather is big news and big business for our local stations.
You might think the gray landscape is depressing, but it isn’t. Those redbuds hold promise, for when their purple blossoms appear, I know spring is truly here. Maybe, the state’s pioneers thought so too. The redbud is Oklahoma’s state tree, but according to Gene Curtis of the Tulsa World, the resolution met with controversy in 1937. Some of the women’s gardening clubs believed the redbud was the tree on which Judas Iscariot hanged himself. After research by Dr. G. F. Gray, of Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University,) it was decided that the Oklahoma redbud was not the same tree, only a distant relative.
The most common variety of redbud is our native species. The cultivar ‘Oklahoma,’ distinctive for its glossy and thick, leathery leaves, was developed from plants discovered in the Arbuckle Mountains. Those leaves make it ideal for planting in sunny dry sites.
Other cultivars have been chosen for their brilliant flowers. Many can be found at this North Carolina University website. I also found photos of several of the commercially available cultivars at Sooner Plant Farm.
Note: I wrote this post on March 31, but I didn’t want to publish two posts in one day. The storms I wrote about happened on March 30. We’re due for more severe weather on Thursday. Ah, spring in Oklahoma, can you hear it roar?
Our redbuds bloomed in mid-March, and I recall a landscape very similar to yours when I drove around the city with my sister. She has a habit of pointing at and showing off every single piece of new or interesting foliage (she is much more botanically minded than I), so not a single redbud escaped my notice. I was thankful, though, because, like OK is right now, Austin was all grays and browns with a small spattering of the hopeful purple and occasional red from the little possum-haw trees. It’s quite different today, but this post sort of transported me back a few weeks.
Hanako, thank you for all of your sensitive and wonderful comments. I love reading them.~~Dee
Your storms sound scary to me! I have a girlfriend who moved to Edmond two years ago and that tornado you wrote about touched down near them. I don’t think she got any sleep that night. Stay safe.
Yeah, Kathleen, that one was a doozie. You get used to it though.~~Dee
Redbuds are fantastic trees. I’ve wondered sometimes why it isn’t the state tree here in Tennessee (Tulip Poplar). It’s everywhere. If you are ever driving down I40 in spring through the upper Cumberland area (Cookeville, Crossville) you will find redbuds blooming in a profusion of purple. We have three in our yard, one old one in the very back and two I planted last year. Great trees!
Hi Dave, I didn’t know the Tulip Poplar was the state tree of TN. I learn something new everyday.~~Dee
I am drawn to the starkness of the un-leafed landscape.
I love its shapes.
But I feel pale after reading your post (and the comments).
The winds which caused so much concern here are pathetic in comparison.
I was frightened just reading about tornadoes – and hurricanes – and earthquakes – and fires.
What can one say?
Esther, you get used to it. Really.~~Dee
Thank you for your comment. I love the pictures of these blossoms I forced blossoms one year and it came out lovely! Your pictures make me wish things were blossoming here…
Louis, I hope you have blooming things soon too.~~Dee
Oh, my gosh, Dee. Praying for your family’s safety! Yes, it’s all what you are used to. There’s a line in the I Ching about repetition to danger becoming “normal” (paraphrasing ever so slightly). I think earthquakes and floods and fires are normal…I’ve been through two MAJOR quakes. Not happy. I think over time we learn what to do to survive in those circumstances, so we feel more prepared. I would not know what to do in a tornado. I know living in NC unnerved me completely. I did not know how to handle trees icing over and branches falling from the sky. Redbuds are blossoming outside my office window. What a juxtaposition. Life and death. Kathryn xox
Kathryn, you see, earthquakes scare me.~~Dee
Happy to hear you weathered the storms safely; take good care on Thursday.
The Oklahoma redbuds are just as beautiful as Texas redbuds. 😉
Dee thanks again for your generous comment on my blog. Those who have not grown up with weather like ours don’t seem to want it. But, I don’t want earthquakes and hurricanes! It’s what you are used to. Like you, I love watching the awesome beauty and power of a storm. And the air aftewards is heavenly. It smells so alive! Great post and pictures of your state tree. (Isn’t that funny about the red bud possibly being the tree of Judas!)
Hi Beckie, I thought that info. was interesting. That’s one of the cool things about blogging and the internet. You can discover all kinds o interesting information. I love storms too. Love the smell afterwards too.~~Dee
Your redbuds are *so* gorgeous. I’ve never seen anything like them. Tornadoes…eek. I’ve never even seen a real one, but I have a strong, abiding childhood fear of them. To this day I have nightmares about tornadoes. Simply reading about tornadoes near your home bumped up my heart rate!
Amy, thank you, and don’t worry about me. We were all fine. We have a lovely basement closet built into the hillside. We also have a weather radio. Sorry tornadoes scare you.~~Dee
I live for spring and thunderstorms. I don’t know if I could live anywhere else without longing for them to my core.
I’m not an avid gardener, but I did plant some violets in the front yard flower bed last week. When I take walks I’m floored by the variety of flora in just my little area. I love wildflowers.
And thanks so much for linking to me!
Sherri, me too. I love storms. I love the feel of the electricity as they come barreling through. You’re welcome.~~Dee
Our redbuds are in bloom now too. Glad the twister didn’t get you. We have to watch the weather pretty close here too. I remember it was worse when I lived in Denton. That’s somewhere between you and me.
Debbi, glad you can get to enjoy them too. What wonderful little native trees they are. Yes, Denton is between us. Glad you came by today.~~Dee
Lisa at Greenbow
Our redbuds aren’t blooming just yet. I can’t wait until they do. They really make me feel springy. Just seeing your
beautiful redbuds makes me anxious to see ours.
Be safe.. Those storms were awful. We got thunder and the rain part of the storm. As you say…so goes spring here.
Lisa, check back in when yours are blooming. Your spring is a little later than mine. I actually like storms.~~Dee
I certainly do recall those Oklahoma storms! And I don’t miss them. We’ve had a bit of weather nearby here too. Well, I know you’re probably off to the Fling. Maybe next year for me! Share all once you’re back.
Brenda, I don’t leave until Friday early, but I can’t wait. You stay safe too.~~Dee
Redbuds great. Tornados, terrifying. I can’t even IMAGINE sleeping with one anywhere near me–they are the stuff of nightmares to me. Guess I wouldn’t make a very good Oklahoman, would I? Glad all is well, if purple and grey.
Jodi, we usually get a lot of warning before one hits. The bad old days when people walked out and looked at the green sky are over, thank goodness. One hit two blocks from my house when I was a little girl. That was spooky. Oh, I like the contrast between purple and gray.~~Dee
love the redbud. I hope your weather settles. I’ve lived in so-called ‘tornado alley’ most of my life. I’m used to it, doesn’t really faze me most of the time, although I do pay attention to the weather and wouldn’t hesitate to take cover in the basement if necessary. Been there, done that. glass of wine, flashlight, game of cards. . . not a bad way to spend an evening!
Linda, The weather will settle by the end of May. Not a bad way to spend an evening, true!~~Dee
If I told you this before, ignore me…My husband is from Oklahoma, went to college at OCU..he and his college roommate tell stories of dragging their lawn chairs on the dorm roofs to watch the storms blow by…the sport of OK…glad the tornado passed you by.
I love cercis, we have quite a few in the yard and I was noticing that they are particularly lovely this year…maybe it’s like this every year but after the late frost and drought it feels different.
There is something about a cloudy, gray day that makes the contrast of vivid colors pop….your photographs are lovely!
Gail, tell your Okie husband “Howdy” for me. Yes, it truly is a sport here for some people. Although I’m not into storm chasing, I do love the feel of the atmosphere when a thunderstorm comes through. Thank you for your kind words.~~Dee
My goodness– so glad you were not hit! Did you hear them all evening, talking about Co-gar? Goes to show how self-absorbed I am, I saw the path of the storms going across Minco, Union, El-Reno, and I quit watching. Thanks for the wonderful trivia about the redbud!
CA, I loved your post about the tornadoes. The part about the cat made me laugh. You know, I didn’t even watch the television until we got the phone call. I was too busy doing something.~~Dee
Glad you escaped the tornado’s path, Dee. We have a weather radio too, and though tornadoes do occur in Austin, it mostly goes off for flash floods.
Hopefully, all the rough weather will pass through by Friday, and we’ll have sunshine for the Spring Fling.
Pam, those flash floods are amazing things to watch. I saw some in Santa Fe a couple of years ago. There’s just nowhere for the water to go. I’ve been watching the forecasts, and I think we’ll have perfect weather for Spring Flinging.~~Dee
I think the redbud is such a gorgeous tree. I hope your weather settles.
Nancy, it will at the end of May. May 3rd was our worst tornado is recent history. Redbuds are lovely.~~Dee
The redbuds are beautiful, Dee. It’s great that you can feel so unruffled by the scary weather forecasts. It would take some getting used to for me!
I’m glad no one was injured during the tornadoes. We lose electricity during wind and snow storms too, but the workers are great about getting it back on pretty fast. I don’t envy them their jobs!
We had a springy morning but it’s raining again now. Warmer temps today though, and that feels good!
Kerri, I’m glad you’re getting warmer temps. Our weather is pretty exciting, but I feel sorry for those who lose property or get hurt. I was teasing a little about our meteorologists, but they do a great job letting us know when and where tornadoes will touch down.~~Dee
Dee … I have always been in awe over this tree .. the colour is so brilliant. I have a gray and brown world mostly here .. slow sightings of green are happening but we still have lots of snow on the ground.
I feel for you in scary bad weather though. I would be a chicken clucking away with that stuff .. although we had a wicked hail storm around June 20th last year .. that scared the crackers out of me .. and the garden was shredded .. ah well .. you can’t do a thing about weather eh ?
Joy, they are fun little trees. They don’t tend to be long lived though. I hope your weather thaws soon so you can get to planting.~~Dee