Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ah, Washington in the spring.

Up until about a week ago, I was beginning to wonder whether spring would ever get here. After a fairly mild start to our winter here in the mid-Atlantic, the cold settled in along about February and didn't seem inclined to leave.

I live just outside of Washington, DC, and I commute to the day job in the District every weekday. And the thing is that the tourists show up every year, even if spring doesn't. You can tell what time of year it is by the type of tourists you see on Metro. March through May, it's usually large groups of preteens and/or teenagers with their adult chaperones. Often, the kids all have on the same brightly-colored t-shirt with the name of their school or group emblazoned on the front. I have to say that the shirts are a great idea. Not only do they help the chaperones count heads and keep the group together on unfamiliar territory, but they also give us locals a heads-up about which train cars to avoid.

One of my favorite stories along these lines is the one about the gaggle of giggly teenage girls who were all wearing zebra-striped hoodies with "DC" in hot pink letters across their chests. I made the mistake of getting into the same Metro car these girls were in. They were so loud that it was hard to hear myself think. When the train pulled into the station at Pentagon City, they all piled out, and then stood on the platform in a huddle and shrieked at the top of their lungs. The gods alone know why.

Anyway. March through May, as I said, it's school groups. Except for several weeks in April when the National Cherry Blossom Festival is happening, and then we also get families who come to see the blossoms. DC is actually awash with blooming trees in spring, but the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin get all the press because they were a gift from Japan. The current trees are actually the second batch; the first batch, which arrived in 1910, turned out to be infested with insects and had to be destroyed. Japan sent a new, bug-free batch of trees a couple of years later. We've had other gift shipments over the years, but the ones at the Tidal Basin are mostly either the 1912 trees or their descendants.

So they're old trees, and pretty much a national treasure. And yet every year, some idiot decides their kid ought to be able to climb the trees and/or pick the blossoms. Don't. Just don't. If the National Park Service catches you, you'll be in trouble. Picking blossoms and climbing the trees are prohibited. Even walking around under the trees is discouraged. If too many people do it, it compacts the soil around the roots and makes it harder for the tree to absorb water.

Anyway, I was very glad the cherry trees finally bloomed (and in time for this year's festival, too -- that doesn't always happen), because it means winter is over at last. And it also means that next up are my favorite blooming trees, the redbuds. (The redbud tree in this photo is not in America. It's at the Alhambra in Spain. But ours look the same.) After the redbuds, it'll be the dogwoods. And not long after the dogwood blossoms peter out, summer will arrive with a vengeance and we'll all hermetically seal ourselves inside and crank up the air conditioning -- and the only people on the streets will be the poor families who decided to spend summer vacation here.

Gotta love DC.

Speaking of being hermetically sealed inside, I've spent the weekend cranking out thousands of words on the Camp NaNoWriMo novel. It's the second book in Sage and Webb's duology, and it's going to be called Firebird's Snare. As of right now, I'm about 30,000 words into the first draft. Book one of the duology, Dragon's Web, still needs some tweaking. But we're still looking at a May release for that book, and a June release for the second book. Unless life throws me a curve ball, which it very well might here shortly. More on that next week....

These moments of flowery blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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