As we West Coasters sit quietly waiting for the cesium-soaked seaweed to arrive on a radioactive tide – we’re told to expect it in early April – it is nonetheless nice to see that spring is happening.
So I have put away my despair vis-a-vis the political class, my fury over the malfeasance of the corporate class and my general irritation with just about everybody else to spend a little time appreciating one of Southern California’s special signs of spring – i.e., the blooming of the pittosporum.
Pittosporum was new to me when I first moved to the area. It may flourish in its native New Zealand and in southern Japan, but it has no home in New York or New England.
When I first got a whiff of its perfume, I wandered around the neighborhood going ‘What is that? Where is it?’ and was repeatedly told it must be the jasmine. But it was not. First, it’s a tree, not a vine. Second, it blooms earlier than jasmine. Third, pleasant as jasmine is, IMO it falls just short of the extraordinary fragrance produced by the tiny creamy flowers of pittosporum.
There are about 200 varieties of pittosporum, and while there may be a number of them flourishing here, the picture of pittosporum eugenioides above looks a lot like the tree down the street. Because it also appears in shrub form, pittosporum is sometimes called mock orange, but that is a misnomer – it is not at all related to philadelphus, the true mock orange.
When, after the chill of winter, you are walking down the street and a light breeze carries a sweet, briefly heavy, aroma past you just long enough for you to exclaim, ‘Oh, what is that?’ and then you remember, you know it must be spring here. It has been a very long winter for everyone and for large parts of the country, it is surely not over yet. But the season of renewal has begun.
On a personal note, I would like to congratulate myself on having finally reached an elusive goal – one that receded a bit every time I got closer. This is my 500th blog post and while I had meant to be there on last June’s anniversary, it just wouldn’t happen. I blame the dog.