Spring here in Florida is one of my favorite times of year. The evenings are still cool, and it is a perfect time to take a stroll in the neighborhood shortly after it dusk. Somehow the fragrances in the neighborhood are more heightened in the twilight. Walking around the neighborhood, I encounter a scent somehow reminiscent of lemons. It is a scent that always stops me in my tracks for a moment so that I may pause to enjoy the magical fragrance before continuing my walk. This is the magical and unmistakable scent of the Southern Magnolia, which usually blooms from April to June. I am fortunate enough to have one of these beautiful trees which permeates my own backyard with such a sweet-smelling scent while I relax by the pool.
Not only is the scent of the Southern Magnolia magical, but the blooms, which can be eight to ten inches across are equally impressive. The elliptical foliage is dark and evergreen with smooth edges and a rust-colored underside. The tree grows strong and tall and can be approximately eighty feet tall at maturity. The girth of the Magnolia tree is equally impressive, as it can grow to be forty feet in diameter. These trees can live an average of eighty to one-hundred and twenty years.
“I’ve always loved Magnolia trees and their blooms. There is something so beautiful about a Magnolia blossom. It demands attention, and you can’t help but love those big, creamy, petals and that fragrant smell.”
-Chip Gaines, star of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”
Former President Barak Obama presented a Magnolia tree propagated from a Magnolia on the grounds of the White House to South Korea to remember and honor those that lost their lives in a ferry accident there, saying the Magnolia tree “represents beauty, and, with every spring, renewal.” Former President Obama also gave a Magnolia tree to Israel as a symbol of strength, perseverance, and dignity. This Magnolia tree was grown from a seedling from the tree President Andrew Jackson planted at the White House about one-hundred and eighty years ago as a memorial to his deceased wife. Former First Lady Michelle Obama also gave two Magnolia seedlings to Cuba as a gesture of reciprocation to Cuba for sharing the beauty of their culture with the United States.
While I walk around my neighborhood, I am reminded of a dream that Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology Carl Jung had in which he described a certain place:
“….In the center was a round pool, and in the middle of it a small island. While everything round about was obscured by rain, fog, smoke and dimly lit darkness, the little island blazed with sunlight. On it stood a single tree, a magnolia, in a shower of reddish blossoms. It was as though the tree stood in the sunlight and were at the same time the source of light.”
-“Memories, Dreams and Reflections” by Carl Jung
The magnolia is such an important plant that some people use magnolia bark supplement to help reduce anxiety and promote sleep. Others claim the supplements are good antioxidants in the body and brain, and it lowers inflammation and oxidative stress in the body and boosts immunity. Some people chew gum or use toothpaste with magnolia in it to help fight gingivitis and bleeding gums.
I’m not sure about the efficacy or safety of Magnolia supplements, but I do know the Southern Magnolia is a magical plant to stumble upon when walking in the cool Florida spring evenings. It serves as a symbol of light, renewal, strength, and perseverance to me when I think of our current pandemic situation. The magic and beauty of the Magnolia will prevail.
“Life is simply a magic of mayhem and magnolias, so embrace this gentle riot and gather flowers along the way. “
Life is good. Look to the beauty of the Magnolia tree this spring and the lessons we can learn from it. Don’t forget to “gather flowers along the way” in your journey today and every day through life. While every day may not be beautiful during this pandemic, there is beauty and magic moments in every day.
Carpe diem, friends………..