The magnolia may not be the most beautiful thing for most of the year, but as far as I am concerned the flowers - on otherwise bare branches -  confirm that Spring is as good as here. It's a big deal for me. As Winter draws to a close I watch patiently for the first glimpses of white, transforming in a few days to a spectacular, brilliant, dazzling, drift. Elsewhere the tiny wagging lambstails of catkins are starting to show, and leafbuds plumping on slender waking trembling fingers. My heart beats faster.

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