Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Crepe Myrtle Snow

I wasn't familiar with crepe myrtles before moving to Houston, but I quickly came to recognize their thin trunks with lopped-off tops during our first winter here. I didn't understand why something so mistreated by tree trimmers was so ubiquitous until the following summer when the city was full of gorgeous, flower-laden crepe myrtle trees. For several months, our neighborhood has had a spectacular show of flowers in every imaginable shade of pink, lavender, peach and white. Almost every yard includes at least one tree loaded with blossoms, and many gardens have rows of crepe myrtles along their driveways or fences. There is very little blooming in the gardens around us right now, so these trees are a special treat as this long hot summer drags on.

For some reason, we've never planted a crepe myrtle in our own yard. Luckily, our neighbors have a tall tree right next to our driveway. The white flowers are abundant, and we enjoy the show from our kitchen window while eating and cooking. The tree stands above our basil plants, and often the basil leaves are dotted with dropped blossoms. Yesterday, a strong wind kicked up as I was out picking basil for our dinner, sending a mass of white flowers swirling all around me. For a brief moment it felt as if I was surrounded by a blizzard of snowflakes as the blooms gently covered our plants and dotted the ground. The cooling wind felt wonderful, and the garden was quiet and peaceful.

The wind soon died down, the flowers settled on the ground but sadly didn't melt, and I was left standing in the 100 degree heat surrounded by buzzing mosquitos. Perhaps it was just insanity induced by heat stroke, but that brief moment restored me and I felt lucky to have witnessed the spectacular show put on by our neighbor's crepe myrtle tree.

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