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Fallston / Joppa

News Maryland Harford County Fallston / Joppa

It's spring and, hopefully, more than us survived the cruel winter [Commentary]

Many of us look upon the arrival of spring as a time of renewal, both for the earth and ourselves.

Especially coming after a pretty tough winter, I think most of us are greeting the arrival of spring with great anticipation. For me, spring also brings lots of questions with it.

Will the daffodil blooms be as plentiful as last year? Will the rhododendrons survive the constant munchings they got from hungry deer?

I know the deer did just fine actually. On Sunday afternoon, I counted a dozen of them running across my street from the woods to an open field. From where I could see, none of them looked malnourished.

Near to where I saw the deer is a beat up catalpa tree, stunted from not getting enough sun and dangerously close to the road, where the county and utility crews can persistently whack at it.

A couple of years ago, the catalpa was being overrun by vines, so one day in mid-spring I cut them all out and the tree seemed to do pretty well that year and the year after, until the fall of 2012 when it was infested with black worms that I later found out are called Catawba worms.

The catalpa seemed to survive enough to have leaves last spring, but sparse new growth and no blossoms that I can recall. As a result, there were none of those long, brown seed pods we used to call "smokers" when I was a kid.

It could be this spring won't be a revival for the catalpa, which saw a further indignation last summer when somebody dumped a bunch of limb cuttings around its base. When I stopped to look at the tree Sunday, I couldn't really tell if there will be leaves, new growth and blossoms this year. I suspect many things will be late growing because of the winter we just experienced, anyway.

There's another tree I also keep an eye on, an Osage orange that each fall produced those funny looking, sweet smelling sticky green balls that, again from my kid days, I know as "hedge apples." This is another tree that gets constantly whacked at by utility crews and has to fight off rampaging vines, too.

The Osage orange has grown tall, but last November there was no fruit from the tree that I could see. That seems like a bad sign so, like the catalpa, I'm wondering, what's in store for this year?

Then there's the condition of my trusty sour cherry tree, approximate age 40 this year. Because it is surrounded by other trees, it's also grown very high, to the point we can't reach the cherries in the spring, even with our highest ladders.

A few years ago, one of the cherry's two trunks was cracked in a winter storm and we had to cut it off. The other day I noticed a good portion of the canopy on the remaining trunk was broken off and hanging down, again from the weather. We'll have to cut that off as well, if we can even reach it, and that means there won't be much of the tree left.

Over the years, I've taken a couple of "smokers" from the catalpa and a few of the "hedge apples" from the Osage orange and deposited them in places I thought new trees might be able to grow. Can't say as they have taken root, but it's a long process after all, and the places are easy to find.

That's the thing about spring. You really never know for sure what's coming with it, unless it's sticker bushes and vines.

As for the trees, I'll do what I can to help them spread their legacy. Unfortunately, I haven't saved any cherry pits over the years, but I'll be checking around the base of my old reliable tree in the coming weeks. Just in case.

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