Ain’t Spring Yet

One of the gauges used in Texas to determine if there will be a final freeze after the middle of March is when the Mesquite leafs out.  Leaves means no freeze.

Frank Grimes (1891–1961) was the editor of Abilene Reporter News for over 40 years.  In March, 1939, he wrote the following poem that the Abilene paper reprints in March almost every year.

“The Old Mesquites Ain’t Out”

 We see some signs of returning spring –
The redbird’s back and the fie’larks sing.
The ground’s plowed up and the creeks run clear,
The onions sprout and the rosebud’s near;
And yet they’s a point worth thinkin’ about –

We note that the old mesquites ain’t out!

The fancier trees are in full bloom.
The grass is green and the willows bloom.
The colts kick up and the calves bend down.
And spring’s a-pear-ently come to town;
And yet they’s a point worth thing’ about –

We note that the old mesquites ain’t out!

Well, it may be spring for all we know –
There ain’t no ice and there ain’t no snow.
It looks like spring and it smells so, too –
And still they’s a point worth thinkin’ about –

We note that the old mesquites ain’t out!
redbudThe native Redbuds (C. canadensis texensis) are definitely in bloom.  Their color pops in front of green cedars or the bare branches of oaks.

redbudbloomUp close is the best way to view them, although they brighten up a drive in the spring.

redbudbloom3redbudbloom2leafbuds2Some trees in the yard are leafing out.

leafbudsThe brown leaves are a result of an earlier budding that was killed by a freeze.mesquiteHere’s a bare Mesquite – no leaves.  Mesquites (Prosopis glandulosa)) are extremely hardy and drought-tolerant  because they reach the water table, which can be as deep as 290 ft.,through long taproots.They’re also able to use water in the upper part of the ground, depending upon availability. The tree can easily and rapidly switch from using one water source to the other.

For these and other reasons, Mesquites are considered nuisances.  Ranchers want the moisture in the land available for grasses.  Chopping down the Mesquites does not kill them, even if cut off at ground level.

mesquite2The positive aspects of the mesquite include its very hard wood, which is used for furniture and hardwood flooring. The flowers provide bees with nectar to produce honey. Their rapid growth is both a blessing because they provide shade for cattle and a bane because that root grows ever deeper.  The bean pods were ground up by the settlers, who used it as flour for baking.

The photos of the Mesquites shown above were taken four days ago.  Day before yesterday I noticed that they have in fact leafed out.

Then the last two mornings, we’ve had light freezes.  So the old wives’ tale is not necessarily true.  But it’s probably more reliable than Punxsutawney Phil.

“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”  Benjamin Franklin

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