It starts off slowly at first: a vague green mist collects around the tiniest twigs. At this stage, you might look out the window and miss it entirely. At a distance, the trees look bare as they have all winter. But a keen eye will see those leaflets the moment they burst from their buds.
Next the baby leaves take their shapes. No longer are they indistinguishable specks. They grow large enough that you can tell a maple leaf from a tulip poplar. In their first weeks, their color is a vibrant, waxy green, almost neon. That bright green is what makes the landscape look like the spring that you envision when someone says that spring is their favorite season––dogwoods and redbuds are in bloom, tulips and daffodils dance in the grass, and those young leaves sparkle in the sun whenever a breeze blows.
Slowly, they grow, unfurling day by day. A leaf looks like one of those magic grow foam capsules you’d throw in the bathtub as a kid, stretching out as it fills up with water, steadily taking its shape.
And now they’ve arrived, here in full. It seems like it happened suddenly and slowly all at once. Just four weeks ago, there were hardly any leaves to speak of. Now, they’ve lost their neon tint and will only grow a deeper, darker green from now until the heart of the summer. But perhaps the most beautiful thing about their return are those things that we cannot see. There’s the smell of fresh, living leaves in a gentle spring rain; there’s the rush of the wind rustling through them. Step outside today and give those leaves a listen––that’s a sound we haven’t had the pleasure of hearing for nearly six months now. Its return is one of the many welcome songs of summer on the horizon.