Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Oregon Spring part 2

I left Oregon in the middle of (quite literally) the blooming spring, and when I got back a week later I could tell it was a different moment.  Everything was green—everything.  In the winter there is a lot of green because the grass stays green and there is always the green of the many evergreen trees, but once everything leafs out the level of green ratchets up exponentially.  After a week in Utah it was oh so beautiful. 

The thing that was flowering when I got back brought me great happiness—dogwood.

But first, a brief history of my relationship with dogwood.  My family moved to the mountains of North Carolina halfway through my senior year of high school.  I stayed in Iowa to finish my senior year and then moved to NC once the school year was over.  At the end of the summer I was off to BYU, and that was my pattern for the next two years until I got married.  I heard people talk about the dogwood from time to time and I was always like “I don’t know what a dogwood is, and it doesn’t much matter to me.”  And then I probably wondered why you would name a tree after a dog, or something like that.

Many years later Russ & I moved to North Carolina.  We arrived in North Carolina in June so it wasn’t until the next year that I met the dogwood, but oh, what a meeting.  The dogwood grew wild, tucked in here and there in the woods and forest and natural areas.  It grew asymmetrically and unpredictably, stretching for the light where it was available.  Often a wild dogwood tree would end up with several canopied layers, a creature entirely different from the shaped and manicured trees planted on someone’s lawn.

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Dogwood flowers bloom in Durham before any of the other trees have fully leafed out, the first harbinger of the beautiful spring that is to come.  The flowers peek from the woods and roadsides like bits of lace, a piece here and another bit there, first greenish, then creamy white, and finally a beautiful white that catches the sun and almost glows.

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When we built a house a few months after the triplets were born I was excited to see that there were bits of dogwood in the wooded area around the house.  Imagine my excitement the year after we moved into our house in Black Horse Run (instead of the house we built—long story) and found the next spring that there was dogwood everywhere around our house.  I loved it.

  April 2009 401


There was one exception to my preference for wild dogwood over cultivated dogwood, and that was the pink dogwood.  I never did see a pink dogwood tree growing wild, and I just loved the color and the blossoms.  I always felt like I’d seen a treasure when I spotted these trees around town.  (Though I did feel quite strongly that they should never be planted by a redbud tree, which in it’s purple-ish beauty clashed quite strongly with the faintly salmon pinkness of the pink dogwoods…but I digress.) 

The pink dogwood trees seemed like flocks of dainty pink butterflies, so striking against the surrounding green foliage and the blue sky. 

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April 2009 324 GOOD


So.  Back to my arrival in Oregon last week.  I had wondered what would still be in bloom or what new signs of spring there might be.

Can you imagine the thrill I felt when I saw, all over town, pink dogwood trees?  They were everywhere, greeting me with their cheery pinkness.


And then, when I looked out of my bedroom window the first time after I got back, guess what I saw, behind my flowering quince, peeking over the fence in our backyard.


Yep.  A beautiful white dogwood, tall, beautiful, and almost wild-looking.  And I’m going to look at this dogwood and every pink one I see as horticultural tender mercies, gifts from my Heavenly Father who knows so well the things I will miss the most from my lovely home in North Carolina.  Helping me to feel a little more at home here in Oregon.


  1. The thing I love most about dogwoods is their horizontalish-ness. I love how the blossoms are flat and grow in layers on the tree- it's calming, makes me think of lying down:). Did you know that the dogwood is North Carolina's state flower, but Virginia's state tree?

    Anyway, I share your love of them, and when I was little I had a little silver bracelet with a dogwood blossom on it. It's long gone, but I always keep my eye out for something similar for my girls...

  2. I have never seen a dogwood tree, but I do believe in tender mercies. We are so blessed!

  3. Beautiful words and beautiful pictures. I am really missing dogwoods now!!!!!!!!!