My favorite spring blossoms when I was growing up in Kentucky were the big white globes that burst from the snowball bush every April. They were huge and bouncy, like cheerleader pom poms, and served as a great background for spring photos.
A few years after moving into our house in Virginia, a storm uprooted the tall scrub pine in our front yard. It came out of the ground as easily as if a giant had pulled a toothpick from a piece of mushy fruit. That’s when we discovered that the whole root system had rotted and left a hole full of rich black dirt. The perfect spot for a snowball bush! My mom was visiting at the time and missing her own blooms back home, so we headed off to the nursery, excited about having another snowball in the family. I bought a small plant in a pot with a few flowers and, once we got home, my son loaded it into his red wagon and hauled it to the gaping hole in the front yard. We had to fill the hole partially with dirt so the little bush didn’t completely disappear when we planted it. It looked sort of pitiful at first, trying to take the place of an evergreen that had once stood taller than our house. But with each passing year the snowball seemed to double in size and bloom, its branches spreading and reaching skyward.
Today, it’s a tree — a giant globe of white with hundreds of blossoms, the first thing I see when I turn up our street. At night I can’t resist looking out an upstairs window onto that profusion of bright white blooms dancing in the glow of the front porch light. It’s still one of my favorites.