To say that spring has been slow to arrive would probably be the understatement of the decade. To be sure, our springs—well, our spring weather—are almost never in concert with the calendar, and even in the best of years, the progress of the growing season is retarded by our proximity to the ocean, which is cold for quite a while longer... and a magnet that pulls out the heart of spring until, well, just about summer. So it goes... so it almost always goes. But, however slow things can be, eventually one of those true signs of the season makes its debut, and today, on the upper banks of a nearby river, I spotted the first Red Maple blossoms. I read recently that Acer rubrum is our most common hardwood tree in the area, and, given its ubiquity, you might think the tree would be easy to ignore. Not so. I have a few signature Red Maples that I watch every April to see which one will grace us with the first exquisite tree flowers, ruby delights for the eye, but, sigh, an eyesore for folks who suffer from pollen allergies. Perhaps this photo will bring joy to the sniffling house-bounders.