“You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, “Eat, Pray, Love”
That’s another gem of E-P-L wisdom that works well with today’s blog. It reminds me of my favorite philosophy from Alice Walker: “It pisses God off if you walk past the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice.”
It’s hard to not notice a crepe myrtle in full bloom. And that’s why it is my favorite tree.
You know, magnolias are symbols of the South. One simply does not disrespect the magnolia. The flower is gorgeous and scented, but the tree is dark and messy, shedding leaves like madronas in the Pacific Northwest. The rusty undersides of the leaves give them a look of impending death. While magnolia flowers are not profuse, like those of the crepe myrtle, individually they are adorable. I remember touching the creamy petals as a child and they turned brown almost before your eyes wherever your fingers landed. Gorgeous, but insanely delicate. Yup, magnolias are way overrated.
I also remember crepe myrtles from my childhood in Louisiana, but nothing like the fancy ones around here. I think in the 45 years since, nurseries have developed some extraordinary performers when it comes to blossoms. My favorite colors are the flashy ones, hot pinks and fushias. There are also lavender and white and pale pinks too. But unlike Maine lilacs, whose blossoms stay for 2 to 3 weeks, these so far have stayed for about 3 months!
Named for the crepe paper-like crinkles of the small flowers in each cluster, they are actually imports from Asia, but have become symbolic of their new home in the warmer climate of the South.
Trees Atlanta is a non-profit organization dedicated to beautifying the city, and is currently planning the trees and shrubs for the new Beltline that will encircle the city. The organization planted the crepe myrtles along the sidewalks in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood where I live, and I am so pleased they chose that species.
There were also redbuds in the neighborhood that were gorgeous in early spring, and their seed pods now dangle in great profusion. Many people nearby also have flowering cherries and apples and roses – always something in marvelous bloom here.
Wherever you go in Atlanta, the crepe myrtle seems to reign supreme. Long live the crepe myrtle.