Remember When: With spring comes the catkins

Published 8:00 am Friday, May 4, 2018

When our thermometer yo-yo finally produced the beautiful flowering azaleas and dogwoods of spring, we also got a dowsing of tree pollen and their catkins.

While forwarding photos of our deep red azaleas, I was also brushing pollen out of the bird bath daily when I added fresh water to it.

Now it is covered in catkins from our many oak trees. I understand that the male catkins produce the pollen, which the wind distributes to the female catkins, which then make the acorns which will carpet our yard this fall.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The pollen is copious and the acorns so plentiful that our squirrels are well fed as they scamper about and nest in the oaks.

I identify with 5-year-old Julia Hasley, whose understanding is beyond her tender years, as chronicled in a recent Bulletin article.

My father bought a big library-size dictionary and a set of Encyclopedia Britannicas for me when I was born. I was looking things up in my “big books” well before I started to school.

One of my engineer colleagues had a son who was reading his older brother’s school books when he was 3 years old. They could not believe it, so they gave him a book he had never seen; he read that without hesitation.

I don’t know about Julia’s parents, but neither my mother nor my friend set out to make “wunderkinds” of their children. My mother just answered my questions.

We moved away so I did not hear more about my friend’s gifted boy, but as a young trouble-maker, I was put in the second grade shortly after starting to school. Then I aced the “standard tests” given to us in the fourth grade, and consequently was double promoted to the sixth grade.

Yes, I was valedictorian of my High School class and scored 99th percentile on the tests the Air Force gave us. All of this indicates only that I was proficient at “book larnin’” and test taking.

I used to wonder why, if I was supposed to be so smart, I continually did so many stupid things! My real education came slowly.

Years of reading Ann Landers helped me understand something of human relationships . . . mainly that everyone’s life has some soap opera!

To improve my vocabulary, I started working the cross-word puzzles in the Waco paper  — about the only thing I remember learning is that an “elater” is a click beetle. The problem with having a large vocabulary is that most people will not understand you!

My Dad’s cousin Bruce once commented that he did not like people who talked over other people’s heads — at 6 feet 5 inches, my brother Bill promptly observed that he was always doing that.

Little Julia will doubtless do very well in her private school, and I did well in the one-size-fits-all public schools: I studied hard in order to make good grades so as to qualify for college, since I wanted to be either an architect or an aeronautical engineer.

I later learned that the really smart kids did not have to study hard — in college, we all knew who the smart kids were!

Several of my friends are or have been public school teachers — very good ones, too. I believe they are truly educating their charges, helping one and all to become good citizens. After all, is that not the real reason we have public schools?