Note: This post was first published April 1, 2020. At that time, the news of a pandemic was fresh, but not fully understood. The impact, of course, was in the beginning stages. I’m republishing so that you can read my thoughts last April — and now my new thoughts in April 2021. One thing’s for certain: spring happened both years – whether we were ready or not, vaccinated or not, prepared for quarantining or not. So, for my “You Pick It” post introduced by Leya, here’s a hybrid of 2020 and 2021.
2020: It’s a spring like no other here in Knoxville: people are staying inside, dedicated caregivers and medical professionals are working harder than ever, and most of us barely realize it’s the prettiest time of the year in our fair city. But one thing COVID-19 hasn’t stopped is the blooming of trees and flowers everywhere, Knoxville included.
In fact, spring is happening, with color and confidence.
2021: Spring has sprung once again in Knoxville (still with color and confidence) as we prepare for our signature festival: Dogwood Arts. Many residents have been vaccinated, so restaurants are reopening, fans are returning to spring sports, and lilacs, rebuds, dogwoods, tulips, etc., are blooming!
2020: The first shows in Knoxville are the tender greens — sprouts emerging from the ground, poking up to see what’s going on in this world of ours.
2021: No difference this year. Fresh, green leaves of hostas point heavenward, heralding the re-opening of our fair city and a return to “normal” — a state Nature never left.
2020: But pink quickly takes on a life of its own. Redbuds (maybe they should be called purple buds or pink buds) line the I-40 interstate and push out their color as if to say, “Look at me first.” But we can’t stop staring at them wherever we find them.
2021: In Knoxville, we know it’s spring when the redbuds are in bloom along I-40. These naturally wild versions spring forth early, adding a soft purple to the green space along the interstate. Shortly thereafter, redbuds appear on our main thoroughfares — in the city and the suburbs. Some are planned for and planted, some spring up wherever they get a toehold.
2020: Pink cherry trees also bloom early, almost bending with the weight of what looks to be tissue-thin flowers clustered along meandering branches.
The same has happened again in my neighborhood in 2021.
2020: But the heart of springtime in Knoxville is the dogwood (Cornus florida). Celebrated for 65 years now by the Dogwood Arts Festival, dogwoods even have their own trails. And a drive along any one of them is a spring awakening for residents and visitors alike.
2021: Dogwood Arts is now alive and well in Knoxville! And not just the trails that were open last year, but many of the events we’ve come to know and love — Chalk Walk, Bikes & Blooms, Featured Gardens.
2020: We checked to see if trails and open gardens would be available for touring this year, and, best we can tell, some are. This cautionary statement appears on the website: Due to the spread of COVID-19, some of the Open Gardens listed below may choose to close. Please only enter gardens that have an “OPEN GARDEN” sign in the yard.
2021: The new wording on the Dogwood Arts website is this: *MASKS REQUIRED AND SOCIAL DISTANCING ENFORCED. Thankfully, we can still roam freely in some of Knoxville’s prettiest gardens.
2020: One garden we’ve previously shared, the estate of Dr. Alan Solomon, will not be on tour this year, but we remember fondly the elegance of the forested acres and statuary that make it a showplace like no other in town.
2021: Dr. Solomon is re-opening his garden for the event known as Open Gardens on April 17 and 18, 2021. A glorious treat for all who remember these grounds that were open for years, except for 2020!
2020: If you want a springtime lift, a drive along one of the trails may be your best bet. Check the Dogwood Arts website for a map showing the location of this year’s trails, and then drive along for a color treat. We took the Westmoreland Trail this week, and, as you can see, there’s much to celebrate.
2021: The featured trail this year is the one in Holston Hills. Follow the pink lines running through the neighborhood and get ready to take photos. Trees are in full bloom!
2020: It’s good to know that even when most things we value are shut down across America, Mother Nature still shows her colors majestically. It’s time to celebrate spring — whether in Knoxville or your own hometown — and be thankful for growth, renewal, and color in these tough times.
2021: Perhaps we appreciate nature’s beauty even more this year after spending much of last year’s spring inside our homes. Truly this quote has new meaning for all us as we emerge from the “winter” of quarantine to the spring of life:
If winter comes, can spring be far behind?Percy Bysse Shelley
Here’s hoping spring is beautiful no matter where you are — and this year, maybe we can all get out to enjoy it to the fullest.
Travel the pretty spots,
Rusha and Bert
If you want to see more entries in Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #142: You Pick It, go to Leya’s blog and enjoy the entries linked below her absolutely gorgeous photos of anemone hepatica.