Almost blossom time
It’s (almost) cherry blossom time!
Look, I know winter lovers are likely grimacing at the early appearance of daffodils and mourning the lack of crisp air — a year without a winter, really. But me? I’m dancing around in my flip-flops, and not only because my nine-months-pregnant feet can no longer squeeze comfortably into ac- tual shoes. Even with a few whispers of snow still in the forecast, it’s spring!
Since childhood, I’ve considered fall — with its pies and pumpkin spice lattes, brilliant leaves and bonfires — to be my favorite season. It’s a cozy time, one ripe with great family memories centered around my parents’ and grandparents’ tables. If you’ve hung around with me for a while, you’re probably wondering how I could possibly turn my back on a season I discuss with near-religious fervor. Autumn! Sweet, golden autumn!
And, you know, I still love fall. I will always love fall. But if I’m being honest, the pastel colors, warm breezes and flowering trees of spring just hold more appeal these days. And not just because Peeps (and Peep-fla- vored Oreos, I’ll have you know) are abundant in every store. I love nothing more than shedding a coat and gorging myself on candies shaped like robin eggs. Spring is an actual breath of fresh air after winter’s long darkness.
It all changed — like so much else — when I became a parent. My son was born in April, on the first brilliant day of spring that year. And soon my daughter will be welcomed in this season, too. It’s a time of growth and renewal, of shedding old things to make way for what is good and clean and new.
The cherry blossoms are certainly part of that. My mom and I have made many pilgrimages to see the famed trees along the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., joining thousands of others to take photos and stroll among the blooms in the sunshine. It’s crowded and slightly claustrophobia-inducing, yes, but definitely worth the experi- ence. And worth experiencing again and again and again.
Why do folks get so worked about some trees? Well, they’re pretty. And fleeting. All the bet- ter to appreciate them while they’re present — a narrow window that can open for only a few days.
After a long streak of making it downtown each blooming season, our day trips during peak bloom have been more scattered in recent years. Lack of vacation time, bad timing mid-week — the excuses, you know: they pile up quickly. But I know how fortunate we are to live so close to such beauty. My mother-in-law would love to see the blooms on one of her visits from New York, and we keep trying to work out the timing. We thought we were going to make in 2015 . . . but alas, Oliver came early.
My parents and I did go last year: very early on a Saturday morning, because that was when we could make it work. While few of the trees were in bloom, I enjoyed spending time with Mom and Dad on a day I was free to wander while Spencer hung back with Ollie.
Wandering is good for the soul.
How often do any of us head out for an aimless drive, a casual stroll? I’m guiltier than anyone of rarely making time to simply be, and it’s my life’s ambition to get myself together enough to live in the present without a stream of to-dos constantly running through my mind.
That compulsion — to make lists; to schedule everything to the minute; to never veer off course — seemed to initially worsen when I became a mom. But ironically, as time goes on, I find myself more and more willing to do things spontaneously. It’s easier that way. As life with children can be unpredictable, I’ve found it best to avoid setting anything in stone. Now I aspire to keep life loose, you know? As much as it can be, anyway. I don’t know if we’ll make it to see the cherry blossoms this year. With the National Park Service predicting peak bloom (when at least 70 percent of the cherry blossoms are open) to begin Tuesday, I doubt I’ll have the opportunity or energy to waddle myself down to the Tidal Basin. The perils of another spring baby.
So I’ll participate online, prowling the internet and living vicariously through Facebook posts and Twitter hashtags. I’ll remember the afternoons Mom and I once wandered while enjoying the warmth of a new season.
I’ll get back there . . . someday. Likely with a double stroller.
Then our traditions can begin anew.