Posted April 15, 2010
I opened sleepy eyes the other morning to figure out I was chilled. Odd. The days had been in the high 80's for the last week. Then I remembered. It was Dogwood Winter. The time when the dogwood trees popped into bloom.
Every year at Easter, Mother snapped a picture of me decked out in my Easter clothes in front of the dogwood tree that stood in the front yard. Mother loved dogwoods and knew most of the names of other trees - which ones made hot fire wood, black walnuts, tasty fruit, and the best shade.
On spring weekends, we drove to visit relatives in Alabama and Mother would say, "Look at the locust trees. All white like snow." (That was before ornamental Bradford Pears were planted to beautify the city and interstate.) A week later she'd pipe, "Redbuds are popping out all over the mountains. Dogwoods will soon follow and along with them Dogwood Winter."
I always wondered, "Why would anyone name a tree after a dog?"
I learned there was a legend that at the time of Crucifixion the dogwood had been the size of the oak and other forest trees. So firm and strong was the tree that it was chosen as the timber for the cross. To be used thus for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the tree, and Jesus nailed upon it, sensed this. In His gentle pity for all sorrow and suffering Jesus said to the tree: "Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross--two long and two short petals. And in the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see it will remember."
The pink dogwood was said to be blushing for shame because of the cruel purpose which it served in Jesus's Crucifixion.
The weeping dogwood further symbolized excruciating sorrow.
The red dogwood, aptly named the Cherokee, bore the color to remind us of the blood shed by our Savior and also the wounds of Jesus.
Whether the legend was true or not, Dogwood Winter was a respite
from the hot muggy days of summer below the Mason Dixon Line.
I once again thought about the tree being named a dogwood and how
Jesus had been crucified so cruelly by men dead-set on shame and torture
and I was reminded of an old expression
we have down South: "I wouldn't treat a dog like that."