This is the time of year my wife and I take our spur-of-the-moment excursions around city neighborhoods and along county roads to see what's blooming.
These easy trips aren't scheduled by the calendar. Instead, Mother Nature determines when we go and what we see.
For example, it's time for the daffodil run. Flowering quince is a good bet too. And the forsythia and tulip trees are already showing off. Soon it will be time for the redbuds and then the dogwoods. Sweet Williams will take over along the way.
One of the most magical trips we ever took occurred several years ago when we got off the highway near Gypsy and wandered along gravel roads to the nearby Castor River when the old bridge was still there. Along the river bottom was a sea of sweet williams. It was if a soft blue tide had come in, following the river's course as it emptied from the Ozarks and headed toward the man-made Diversion Channel.
Another trip that turned into serendipity occurred a few years ago when we drove into Illinois and headed for Giant City State Park between Anna and Carbondale. Park officials had burned off much of the undergrowth along the low meadows, much as lightning would have done on its own in some years. As a result, several species of plants that had been muscled out returned with vigor. Our breath was taken away by a flood of blue-eyed Mary blossoms stretching as far as we could see, like a layer of fog.
Cape Girardeau and surrounding counties are excellent destinations as spring arrives, regardless of what the calendar says. Head out on these beautiful sunny days and see for yourself. Maybe you'll find your own favorite patch of beauty, like the Penzel azalea farm over by Oak Ridge. What an amazing place. And what amazing people to have devoted so much to a couple of weeks of pure enjoyment every year.
You don't have to go far to find beauty. There are dozens of beautifully landscaped yards right in town.
The one my wife and I go to see is on Alta Vista near the university. The pansies are in place in one of the best-kept beauty spots to be found. All year long this yard provides sights to soothe. Thanks.
When we lived in Topeka, before moving to Cape Girardeau, one of our spring highlights was a visit to see the thousands and thousands of tulips planted and maintained by a property owner on the edge of town. Acres and acres of the brilliant blossoms dazzled anyone who passed by.
We've never been to Holland (the country or in Michigan) when the tulips were in bloom. But the efforts of one man in Topeka gave us a taste of what we have in store when we go.
It is amazing what some individuals, or families, or neighborhoods can accomplish solely for their own pleasure and the enjoyment of others.
Putting on such a spectacular display takes a heap of work. But all the lucky visitor sees is the end result, the beauty of blossoms gone crazy.
That's what happens every April in Charleston, Mo., which is the prettiest town in America for a few days. The azaleas and dogwoods there are amazing. And don't miss the spectacular wisteria. You have to look for it, but the towering vines are there to be found, like the end of a treasure hunt.
No matter what you like in the way of flowering things, you'll find something that takes your breath away if you take the time to look.
Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.