Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

As we weather the storms, our jacarandas bloom purple again

The blooms of a jacaranda tree dangle in the sunshine of a hot spring day with the city of Tampa in the background.

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

The blooms of a jacaranda tree dangle in the sunshine of a hot spring day with the city of Tampa in the background.

A slick "the size of Rhode Island," the CNN talking heads kept saying — though Stephen Colbert, after leading his audience in a rousing round of post-spill "Drill, baby, drill!" contended this was actually a good thing, Rhode Island being a really small state and all.

Sigh.

The news from outside has not been good. We watch with mounting dread as workers try to stanch the flow of oil in our gulf waters, waiting to see how much damage may be done to our marine life, our sea grasses, our beaches, our tourist trade. Meanwhile, politicians pontificate on whether the future means drill or no drill, which is a little like asking if you would like another squirt of lighter fluid on the fire as your house burns down.

But here is something, a small something, a piece of good news from outside.

At least, and at last, our jacarandas are blooming, demanding to be seen.

Out of nowhere, the "friendly exotic" trees planted across the neighborhoods of St. Petersburg decades ago are bursting with spring flowers, all in that electric purple that puts a plumbago bush to shame.

Jacarandas are spreading their carpets of lavender flowers across the driveways of South Tampa and points north, east and west, and like most years, taking me by surprise.

Except for the years they don't, those drought years when trees conserve energy and wait for better times, giving us no showy show, no purple riot.

This year, Alan Mayberry was holding his breath.

He is one of my favorite people to talk to about trees, being city arborist for Dunedin and an unabashed fan of them. Our unusual cold snaps this winter had him holding out hope for the jacaranda.

He remembers all too well that harsh winter of '83, when the big jacaranda in his yard froze.

"Graveyard dead, right to the ground," he says. "Broke my heart," and how can you not appreciate a man whose heart can be broken by a beautiful tree?

Jacarandas, as it turns out, can be a litmus test for freeze damage. If they make out well, other trees tend to, too.

Our wet weather, all those good rains, may have been what saved us.

The trees — not just the jacarandas, either — are about a month late this year, Mayberry says. But here they are, demanding we take notice.

"They're just vibrant," he says.

"A good year for trees," he says.

So for now, at least, our jacarandas are blooming, a moment's worth of good news from outside.

As we weather the storms, our jacarandas bloom purple again 05/07/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 7, 2010 9:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer

    Nation

    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  2. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry

    Military

    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.
  3. Told not to look, Donald Trump looks at the solar eclipse

    National

    Of course he looked.

    Monday's solar eclipse — life-giving, eye-threatening, ostensibly apolitical — summoned the nation's First Viewer to the Truman Balcony of the White House around 2:38 p.m. Eastern time.

    The executive metaphor came quickly.

    President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump view the solar eclipse from the Truman balcony of the White House, in Washington, Aug. 21, 2017. [Al Drago | New York Times]
  4. Secret Service says it will run out of money to protect Trump and his family Sept. 30

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Secret Service said Monday that it has enough money to cover the cost of protecting President Donald Trump and his family through the end of September, but after that the agency will hit a federally mandated cap on salaries and overtime unless Congress intervenes.

    Secret service agents walk with President Donald Trump after a ceremony to welcome the 2016 NCAA Football National Champions the Clemson Tigers on the South Lawn of the White House on June 12, 2017. [Olivier Douliery | Sipa USA via TNS]
  5. After fraught debate, Trump to disclose new Afghanistan plan

    War

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will unveil his updated Afghanistan policy Monday night in a rare, prime-time address to a nation that broadly shares his pessimism about American involvement in the 16-year conflict. Although he may send a few thousand more troops, there are no signs of a major shift in …

    U.S. soldiers patrol the perimeter of a weapons cache near the U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan in 2003. Sixteen years of U.S. warfare in Afghanistan have left the insurgents as strong as ever and the nation's future precarious. Facing a quagmire, President Donald Trump on Monday will outline his strategy for a country that has historically snared great powers and defied easy solutions.  [Associated Press (2003)]