sweet as tupelo honey

At one point during every season, save for summer, I think that this season is my favorite time of the year.

I love the point in fall when the leaves have turned their autumnal colors and there is a crispness to the air that only happens in late September and early October. Fall smells like new backpacks and fresh notebooks. For me, fall signals beginnings though most of nature is ending or falling into a slumber.

Winter brings the snow that quiets and cleanses everything under its blanket, and this usually brings rest from the harried school days. I love the cold and chilled air of winter, sleeping under a thickly feathered duvet and throwing on handmade scarves to snuggle my neck.

My favorite thing about spring are the honeysuckle flowers. Spring sneaks up on me every year. I grow use to the barren trees of winter and somehow don’t notice the buds and tinges of green that Spring pushes through. Then one day, all of a sudden, there are no more branches on the trees, hillsides cascade with green, houses are hidden behind rows or clumps of leaves and flowers, and shade gracefully covers the precious areas under the trees' new dress.

But, honeysuckle. It's an amazing testament of re-growth. It grows wild along highways, alleys, schoolyards, and backyards, any place with a fence to lend climbing space. The bushes are everywhere and when a small honeysuckle breeze blows and catches me off guard I am seven again, standing in my front yard on the left side of the house near the alley with my brother and neighborhood friends. The bushes are full grown and you can't be outside without the sweetness luring you. We would gather round the bushes picking the yellow and white flowers as quickly as we could. We wanted as much sweetness as we could get, but we were hindered by our work.

Stealing honeysuckle juice is a delicate task. You must be careful to pluck the whole flower from the bush. Then gently holding the flower midway up the petals between two fingers on one hand, you pinch the bottom green mass between two fingers on the other hand and pull. The pulling must be slow. You must feel the tiny yellow ball at the end of the delicate stem slipping through the petals, grabbing and pushing the honey out of the small hole you've made in the flower. Then quickly move the flower and stem to your tongue a moment before you pull the stem from the flower and feel the tiny tickle of sweet, watery honey. It's spring. Your tongue has confirmed it. Life is beginning again.

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