Warmer days of Spring have finally arrived in Albuquerque, and the trees are beginning to respond.

One of my favorite trees is the Japanese maple. Even in the best of years, Albuquerque is not the ideal spot to grow a Japanese maple – too hot and dry. By the middle of summer, mine definitely shows it does not belong here. But it is glorious in the spring. It is just now barely beginning to show tiny leaves.

Japanese maple trees
Japanese maple beginning to show tiny leaves

Another maple, a silver maple, is beginning to drop its seeds. I love these – they spin through the air as they fall, and kids of all ages love them! There is not much hope for this one, however. It fell on dry, parched, cracked earth from the several years of severe drought of which we remain in the midst. It is only early April, and the city has already announced that fines have been doubled this year for water violations. One month last year I got a whopping surcharge (not a water violation charge) for using more than I should have, and I can guarantee that this year I will not get a surcharge or a water violation charge!!!

maple tree seed
Maple seed on dry, parched earth

When we are not in the midst of severe drought, birch trees do pretty well in the Albuquerque area. Mine this year are producing a bumper crop of the male catkins, which I almost think of as a bad sign, almost a desperate attempt to reproduce before dying, which one of my birches seems to be considering. The catkins are quite attractive in the spring, as the female cones are later in the year.

Birch catkins
Birch catkins

Spring brings hope, and this year is no different as I see the trees in this part of the seasonal cycle. But all around me, I also see the effects of a severe drought we have been in for several years now, with no sign of relief in the near future. As water restrictions require me to cut back on watering, the trees will be the last thing I let go, because they are so important in providing shade, nesting spots for birds, and many other environmental factors. And I keep hoping for rain. . .

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