Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cherry Cheers

It is raining in Seattle. A phenomenon for me. A routine for the locals.

Yesterday we saw the pink and white clouds of cherry blossoms floating along the lanes of University campus. Spring is yet to break. Young faces with full cheeks, different headwear and heavy backpacks marched pass me with determined steps. The glory of all this youth, color and energy makes me want to weep. The flowers fall like tears, without direction, without purpose, without a wall. The sky is watercolor blue and clear. But unless you take a photo, you see nothing but their delicate stamens, the soft pink curves rounding their edges like stylized smiles.

The blossoms have become smaller each year. We remember how it used to flood the campus. Our guide tells us.

His hair is a thin white layer of snow shielding his smoothing head underneath, reminiscent of the vista of mount Rainer we see in the distance. A contrast against his heavy black shoes which he drags in a shuffling walk, as if too tired to lift anymore. So pale is mount Rainer's delicate snow caps against the bright sky that we fail to capture it on camera. Our eyes work better to spot it, and the middle aged lady in pink parka tiptoeing to smell the delicate blossoms. The arch of her toe is as innocent as the swooping branch, dipped low to reach the tip of her nose.

The purpose of the trip is unclear. But it's good to be out somewhere one experiences spring, rather than blink and miss it. It feels a privilege to step onto that frail cusp where warm front pushes and attempts to tug away the cold snow, the wet rain and the dark coats. But it takes a few back and forth that lasts weeks, months, not hours. Umbrellas bloom under this invisible line marking the tug-of-war, as rain makes a resurgent call to claim the early onset of short skirts, bare necks and lashes catching pedals rather than its dusty drops. The struggle is real, and I no longer see fluttering hemlines with flowery prints today. But I enjoy the teetering back and forth. Back home the battle is won without ever being fought. The perpetuity of sunshine a mausoleum against the sorrow bleakness of winter, the swift retreats of spring.  The weight of all that sunshine can bear down on you like "a hot iron," or an insistent mother-in-law who overstays her welcome, busy-bodying around the house to tell you what towels to use in the guest bathroom, what herbs to stir into that marinara sauce.

Today I shall return to the university campus for another little picnic consisting of nothing more than fallen pedals mixed into a tepid cup of coffee, an eyeful of strangers whose lives are a bit less determined and perhaps more full of struggles than mine. I see what I want to see, and smile on their behalf, even when they are not.


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