Signs of Spring

 Each year I like to do a post that announces the arrival of spring in our part of Texas.  In the past I have written about budding bluebonnets, magenta blooms on the red buds, sweetly scented narcissus and the return of the purple martins.  This year, I got a much less beautiful reminder that Spring is right around the corner.

Some of my wife's bluebonnets.  Sally has worked for years to spread our state flower all over our yard.

Some of my wife’s bluebonnets. Sally has worked for years to spread our state flower all over our yard.

Last weekend Sally and I were on the back deck.  She became very excited and told me she saw smoke coming from the back of the Cassita.  I of course ran to see what was on fire.  I was relieved to find nothing burning so I turned to tell her everything was ok.  As soon as I turned toward her the male cedar tree (ashe juniper) over the chicken coop literally exploded and released a cloud of pollen that looked very much like smoke! Now if I were not so allergic to cedar I might have found this a whole lot more fascinating.  Ok, I still found it fascinating, but I knew this natural marvel was going to cause me a whole lot of problems over the next few weeks.


Here is a shot of our little guest house that Sally thought was on fire. We call it the “casssita”.

Now I have lived 51 years and I have never witnessed this.  I actually grew up in a cedar break in McLennan county and I never got to see the trees release their pollen.  My itchy eyes, stuffy nose and headaches always told me the pollen had been released but I had never seen it with my own two eyes.


This is the male cedar tree that released its pollen in my face!

The timing of this has been interestingly fortuitous.  A couple of weeks ago a friend sent me a link from Austin’s KVUE News.  Someone actually caught this phenomenon on camera and sent the film to them.  If you would like to see it for yourself, just click on the video clip below.


So, in honor of almost historic levels of cedar pollen in our area, I am now pleased to announce that spring has arrived in Central and South Central Texas.  If you feel like gambling, realize that after February 15, there is only a 10% chance that there will be another freeze in the Houston area.  I am not much of a gambler.  I am still going to wait until March 15 to do most of my planting.  However, this is a good time to start getting your beds ready for planting.  This weekend I will be tilling, weeding and adding lots of compost to my beds.  If the weather holds (and I am not laid up in bed with a headache and a runny nose) I am looking forward to some very sore muscles and a very achy back on Monday.  Happy Spring Y’ all!!!

4 thoughts on “Signs of Spring

  1. Yes, Jay, I have lived in Texas amongst the cedars my whole life and first witnessed the smoking pollen this year myself! It is an amazing sight, to be sure, but I am so allergic that it makes me miserable for a few weeks. I wanted so badly to go out and enjoy the beautiful day today. I went out for a while to help my husband load up branches to go to the burn pile, but I was sorry. There is much to do to prepare for spring planting, but I must bide my time. So glad to see all the little signs of spring though!

    • It was very interesting to see. However, like you say, I am now suffering from the results. Trimmed roses and did some transplanting yesterday afternoon. My eyes and nose are not happy with me this morning!

  2. I’m glad Spring sprung for you early this year in Texas because the rest of us have been deep in snow and ice! Your wife’s Blue Bonnets are lovely! And I’ve never seen a tree’s pollen explosion first hand either! Having allergies myself it would have been hard to not check that out up close and personal. Really fascinating. Love your writing, Jay, thanks.

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