Magnolias and the drumbeat of days

photo-58I’ve always wanted to have a gorgeous, flowering garden. I also know that the planning and production of such a garden — paying a landscape architect and the like — is something that my frugal soul would see as expensive and unnecessary. Fortunately, as longtime readers of this blog know, my husband and I bought a house two years ago that turned out to have rather ridiculous landscaping. While the real estate listing certainly mentioned this, we made an offer on the house in early March. Here on the East Coast, not much is blooming then, and the yard was likely at its least pretty at that point. The landscaping didn’t factor in. By the time we closed on April 15, 2011, though, the place was blooming, and I began to realize what a treat we were in for.

My favorite part of the yard has to be the magnolia by the street. When it blooms, it blooms in a such a riot of pink that it looks like a giant cotton candy cloud has descended by my mail box. I pause whenever I’m by a window in the front of the house to look at it. The tree is actually framed quite nicely by the large window in the front which, having studied this designer’s work, I suspect is not random. I also try to go outside randomly to smell the scent (likewise heavenly). I just stand in the driveway looking at my tree.

Of course one reason I keep trying to look at it and take pictures of it is that I know these blooms are fleeting. They have been up for about two weeks, now, and are now sliding into kind of a mush on the road. I was gone for a week of those two weeks, and I’m back on the road again some this week. Blink and you miss it. Japan was wonderful, but it also meant I almost completely missed the blooming of the plum trees in my backyard. I caught a few days before I left. When I returned, there was only one branch left of blossoms, and the rest of the branches were merely sporting their new red leaves.

Fortunately, there are more blooms to come: roses — which haven’t even begun to emerge yet. The dogwoods are still in full flower. The butterfly-attracting bushes are only starting to get their leaves, as are the hydrangeas. And I know that come late summer and early fall, we’ll get the Michaelmas daisies, blue and beautiful.

But still, I stand there looking at the magnolia blossoms and realize I cannot keep them from falling. I can take pictures, but soon this beautiful pink tree will fade to a more modest green. There are only so many days in a year — days in a life — I can stand there looking at this tree.

Sometimes, the passage of time is a blessing. Lying awake at night, jet-lagged, you want the minutes to go faster. Some people hope to hold on to the baby days with kids, but I’m kind of looking forward to my toddler being a little older, so we can talk and play in the way I do with my older boys. But the dying blossoms make me a little sad. There are only so many minutes in life that will be scented with spring.

In other news: I have a few pieces around the web on career-related topics. Over at Fortune, I wrote about my accountability partner in an essay called “The secret to success? Make laziness embarrassing.

At, I write that “Successful people have short to-do lists.

At CBS MoneyWatch, I write about “7 ways to make each hour count more” and also about “What great coaches do — and leaders should too.

And, of course, if you haven’t purchased What the Most Successful People Do at Work yet, I’d really appreciate it! It’s only $2.99, and will take roughly an hour to read. You do not have to own an e-reader (Kindle, Nook, iPad) to read ebooks. Amazon has a free Kindle app (just Google “free Kindle app”) that you can download in order to purchase and read ebooks in your browser. If you’re reading my blog, I know you have one of those! The audio book should be available in a few days from Audible and iTunes.

Did you also know you can give ebooks as a gift? As long as you have the person’s email address, Amazon will send that person a link to download the book (I’m not familiar with the Nook set-up, but I imagine there’s a similar option).


7 thoughts on “Magnolias and the drumbeat of days

  1. “There are only so many days in a year — days in a life — I can stand there looking at this tree.” I really like this thought- it stands on its own, but can also be an analogy for so many things.

    1. @Leanne – thanks! It is a bit sobering: 14 days a year, for however long I stay in this house. Minus travel days. It’s a finite amount of time.

  2. I’m rediscovering how much I like tulips — easy to see in a way why they were once used as money… some of the happiest moments of my day are dragging the kids behind me in a wagon and looking at the flowers – the great joy of living in a climate where seasons change is the fleetingness it reminds you of and the joy of what each season brings… spring of course being one of the great examples of this.. creates some of the purest sense of gratitude .. light, longer days.. flowers if only for a minute after gray … seems obvious but challenge is always to stop and smell etc.

    1. Yes, the ones I had in NC were more leafy in full bloom but I think there are more ornamental ones that are completely covered in flowers for a few weeks.

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