For as long as I can remember, I always dreamed of having a magnolia tree in my garden.

Of course, that dream naturally evaporated along with those other child assumptions of a house and garden and sedentary life in the UK. Nevertheless, magnolia trees have retained their je ne sais quoi and have been cheering my cycle to college over the past couple of weeks. Blue skies always set them off perfectly.

This year, more than ever, I’ve realised how short-lived their beauty is. For most of the year they are just boring trees, but suddenly, almost overnight, buds appear. Then there’s a fortnight of blossoming; an almost weighty excess of flowers; something so lavishly lovely that I always end up stopping just to stare for a moment. But then the petals go brown around the edges and fall to the ground, and then it’s just a tree again.

Just a tree, yet also a reminder of provision and grace even if life’s trajectory has diverged somewhat from childhood aspirations. An annual symbol of transient splendour; of here today and gone tomorrow.

See how the magnolia trees grow and get the message, oh me of little faith.


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