Focused on Mississippi: The Dogwood Tree

Living Local

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Spring time is when every budding tree gets to be an individual for a short while, sprouting out in its own shade of olive, standing out from the crowd until the heat of late spring and early summer burns them all into a homogonous dark green that makes the river bank trees and the roadsides out in the country look like they are just one continuous plant that stretches for miles.

But while they are still in their individual state, another spring tree gets the jump by putting out its blooms first, waiting until later to bother with leafing up. The dogwood.

The way spring all of a sudden blossoms and buds reminds me of Greenville writer David Cohn’s book “God Shakes Creation.” He took the title from a line he heard from a preacher around Easter one year about how the trees die back in the fall and the fields lay fallow all winter. But then comes spring and God shakes creation.

The dogwood is a part of that. If it were a bigger tree, it may be more a striking presence. But it usually takes its place snuggled in the under-story of the forest. Ones that were set out in the open shape up nicely, like these in Rose Hill Cemetery in Meridian.

A couple of other east Mississippi landmarks have their own dogwoods right now. There’s a healthy one on the east end of Stuckey Bridge over the Chunky River.

Nearby is Dunn’s Falls. If you were to be walking at the top of the bluff and looking back at the Chunky River down below, you’d be looking through one of those spindly dogwoods that grows under the shade of the stouter trees.

It’s not the biggest tree in the forest, but in spring time it’s a lot of people’s favorite. And when they see it, spring time begins to shake within them.

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