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?