They didn’t color my childhood. In fact, growing up in Connecticut there wasn’t a single one.
When I moved to Washington, DC, however, people kept talking about red buds all spring. I thought everyone was weird. What was the big deal? Most trees have red buds, and when the leaves come out, they’re green. Or else flowers come out, and they’re purple or pink or white. Why was everybody talking about “red” buds? I kept looking around for a particularly beautiful red-flowering tree. But there weren’t any.
My father-in-law finally set me straight. About 5 years after I’d moved down here, Johnny pointed right at one — that’s a “red bud.”
“But it’s purple,” I responded.
“Yes I know it’s purple. It’s a red bud.”
“No. It is a ‘purple bud.’ Why would you call an obviously purple tree a ‘red bud'”?
“Because that’s what they’re called. The buds are red.”
“All buds are red, or most of them.” Logic never wins arguments. Ticks me off.
I thought that maybe the trees that I call “purple buds” were indigenous the DC area. Maybe, I thought, they only grow in swamps or in places where people suffer from that special DC combination: over-sized egos + Potomac Fever.
But no, Wikipedia tells me that Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud) grow in much of the U.S. and in parts of both Canada and Mexico. Of course the picture Wikipedia gave me ignores Canada completely.
I got to thinking and I figured that maybe, just maybe, if we can start by renaming these trees, by calling them what they obviously should be called, well then maybe we can work out all the other problems in the U.S. And after that we can tackle the problems of the rest of the world.
But of course, then we’d have to get Congress to agree:
Are they purple?
Or are they pink?
(Google took these pictures, not me.)