Magnolia grandiflora. Photo by (DavetheMage)
John, a former colleague, entered our favorite coffee shop. His arrival was not unusual for a Friday morning.
But he usually didn’t arrive carrying a magnolia blossom. He looked around, obviously searching for an appreciative recipient for the near perfect specimen of Mississippi’s state flower, Magnolia grandiflora.
He explained it was the last bloom from a magnolia on his property and one of the rare blooms to develop low enough for him to pick and share. He set the flower on our table.
I have seen magnolia trees and the blooms of this southeastern United States native all my life. I spent some moments enjoying the extravagant loveliness of John’s iconic Deep South flower.
I was quite familiar with those large, creamy white petals that surrounded a distinctive, sturdy yellow stalk and the stiff, glossy green leaves that framed the bloom before me. Then I held it close to my nose and sniffed.
How had I never before encountered that distinctive scent? For the first time in my 65-plus years I experienced the magnolia blossom's clean, lemony fragrance. It has to be a significant sensory facet of the moonlight and magnolia mystique.
Not for the first time I wondered: What else have I been oblivious to for much of my life? I am amazed at what I learn at this stage of life—knowledge and insights about things both simple and complex that have surrounded me for more than six decades.
But I spend no time worrying about why. I am just thankful to be here to learn and enjoy.