Like Goldilocks sampling the bowls of porridge left on the table by the three bears, I have tasted life in a number of different parts of the world, each with its own climate. Living in the tropics of the US Virgin Islands, with sweat pouring off my brow at the first hint of exertion, I would drag my body to the shade to moan “this is too hot.” The long dark winters in Alaska chilled my bones and at times made me yell through the wool scarf covering my mouth “this is too cold.” But Montana’s temperate climate with four very distinct and nearly equally long seasons, puts a smile on my face. As the seasons change every four months, I smugly pronounce “this is just right.”
Our move back to Montana nearly twenty years ago occurred in late March – just in time for spring. I could not believe what I had been missing for all those years of being away. The lacy limbs of the willows and dogwoods turning bright red and yellow with the first flow of sap through their veins delighted me. Light green with hints of yellow against the dark bark of the cottonwood trees caught the both the sun and my eyes, as their leaves budded, then burst. I literally had to stop along the highways to simply gaze after an early spring snow fall spread a powered sugar covering on hills that were just beginning to don their green dresses.
But nothing had really prepared me for the joy of living with fruit trees – something completely unknown to me before moving to Dunrovin. Lolo is located in the Bitterroot Valley which has long been called Montana’s banana belt. I grew up in Butte, which is 120 miles east, 3,000 feet higher, much drier, and several horticultural zones away. Butte, like Alaska, grows lilacs – and they are much loved by residents. But flowering apple, pear, apricot, cherry, and plum trees are not to be seen. The previous owner of the property that I was to call Dunrovin had a flare for gardening (unlike my own brown thumbs!) and had carefully planted a wide variety of flowing trees, shrubs, and bushes.
That first year at Dunrovin brought us discovery after discovery as spring rolled through our garden and brought forth a riot of tree blossoms of varying colors from pure white to pure pink. A visit from a local arborist introduced us to the joy of orchard bees and got us started cultivating them with several bee boxes. These tiny little workers swarm the tree blossoms and literally make the trees hum. It is pure magic to stand still beneath a flowering tree while the air is alive with non stinging bees buzzing and darting to and fro.
Each day counts as the blossoms and leaves tentatively form and open. With luck, neither strong winds or nor a hard rain pass through to disturb the clusters of flowers, and the fragile blooms remain on the trees for a full week or more. As they mature, they gently fall to the garden paths and cover them like snow. This enchanting show happens every spring and keeps me under its spell. Indeed, spring at Dunrovin is unlike any other of the many spring times that I have passed in other lands – and I am very so grateful to be here to experience it.
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