I had never been a fan of rhododendrons until we moved into our first house and I inherited the one in the front corner of my yard. I was tempted to dig it up and toss it in the compost pile until the neighbor across the street told me that the bush had been her gift to the old neighbors. I sort of had to keep it after that.
The next year, when Christmas was over and the handmade Valentines were taking over my fridge, I looked out the window and was shocked to see that my rhododendron was on the verge of blooming. Soon, it was covered in bubblegum pink blossoms. I picked some bouquets and brought them in to the house. Every year since then, I look forward to that rhododendron brightening up the rainy days of February, when everything else in my yard is soggy and dead. There’s something cheerful about fresh flowers, and something hopeful in knowing that these are the first of many more to come.