Thursday, April 10, 2014

Peak Bloom

The cherry blossoms are here. The brick and stone and steel that line our streets are softened by white and pale pink blooms that lure tourists and jam our rush hour roads. I admit I prefer the elegant flowers of our magnolias, painted in bolder pinks, rich lavender, and deep purple petals, but they get less play in a cherry blossom-obsessed town. (It's alright, sweet magnolias. The tourists don't know what they're missing.)

We are at peak bloom for the cherry trees right now, which will come to an end in the blink of an eye. Rain is forecast for tomorrow, so people thronged the Tidal Basin today, wreaking havoc on the evening rush, and rendering me a profane mess behind the wheel. The pastel mania made the drive of a few blocks feel like a panicked apocalyptic escape from the capital.

Ah, yes. Hello, peak bloom. Here and gone.

As soon as the word "peak" was uttered, the cherry blossoms started to come apart and flutter down to the pavement. The city is already awash in white dots that speckle the streets, tossed along at ground level through busy traffic. Tiny silken tumbleweeds, chaotic yet graceful, they stick to your tires and the soles of your shoes. Fragile as porcelain, utterly ephemeral, and soon to be crushed into the cement. They are lovely, and they are fleeting.

For now, the blossoms float in the breeze like confetti, thrown in gracious handfuls by Mother Nature to celebrate the arrival of victorious spring. Every street is a parade route for the conquering hero who has slain grim winter—a season dispatched to memory and soon to be forgotten in a swell of rising heat. For now, summer waits at the window while the parade rolls by. In just a few days, the blush will be gone, and the city will return to brick, and stone, and metal, unadorned by flowering branches. The temperature will start to soar, and we will wonder where winter went.

And the wait begins again.