Spring Comes To The Mountains of NE Georgia
My first spring spent in Rabun County was heralded with the blooming of one tree in particular that I'd never seen before. Covered in small white blossoms, the trees were obviously native because they were sprinkled all over the faces of the mountains. Since no other trees yet had any leaves and nothing else was yet blooming, I began to ask my newly made acquaintances about the tree.The first lady I asked told me it was a wild plum. Now, I've seen wild plums before and know that they tend to be more bushy, but I thanked her and went on my way.
The next fellow told me that trees covered in white blossoms were dogwoods. Now, I definitely knew better than that. Having lived in the south all my life, not only do I know a dogwood when it is blooming, I can tell a dogwood tree from the others in the forest even when it is as bare as a new born baby's bottom. I can also relate to you the story of how Jesus toted a cross made of wood from a dogwood tree and show you the flowers with the marks of the stigmata and the crown of thorns in the middle to prove it!
So, I knew it wasn't a dogwood tree.
Then, the fellow at the nursery told me it was a wild cherry. That made a little better sense, but it still didn't look like any wild cherry or derivative thereof that I'd ever seen and I pride myself on knowing my blooming trees!
A few days later, I was visiting with the owner of a local business. We were sitting outside admiring the fine spring weather and I looked across the cove to see a wonderful specimen of the blooming tree standing starkly amidst the still bare trucks and branches of the rest of the forest.
I told her of my travails in trying to learn the identity of the tree. She looked at me and said clearly, "Why, that's a Sarvis tree."
"A 'Sarvis' Tree?", I repeated.
"Yes, a Sarvis Tree."
You see, years ago, before the days of telephones, there was very little way of getting the news out to all the mountain folks. Many of them would have spent the entire winter in or around their cabins with no way to get news of the local community. Some may have even lost track of the exact date. Easter being so mecurial and moving from date to date from year to year, was a difficult Sunday to keep track of, but the folks who wanted to start off the year 'right', definitely did not want to miss the Easter service.
So, the 'Sarvis' tree acted as a sign to all the mountain residents that it was time to attend the Easter service (pronounced 'sarvis' here in the mountains).
When the Sarvis tree blooms, put on your Easter bonnet and get to church 'cause Spring is here and Easter can't be far away!