Springtime in Washington

When I ran into Prairie Robin at the Winter Gardening Fair back in February, we had no choice but to discuss the weather, which inevitably led to a discussion of the ever-so-far-away spring. Prairie Robin is another transplant from the D.C. area to Iowa, and so it came as no surprise to me when she sighed, “I really miss all the flowering trees in the spring.”

I knew what she meant, immediately. Iowa has prairie beauty, but D.C. and its dogwoods and cherry trees and magnolias? D.C. in the spring cannot be beaten.

And those of you who knew me when I lived there and, therefore, remember me with my inevitable allergic-reaction-sparked spring cold that generally hobbled me right around the time those trees all bloomed? Hush up. ‘Cause even when I didn’t feel well, there wasn’t anything wrong with my eyes.

About this time last year, I had the opportunity to take a business trip back to D.C. over a Wednesday and Thursday with the CEO of my company. It was just before Easter weekend, and I had thought I would be able to extend the trip and see friends and family in the area before returning to Iowa. It’s a long story as to why, and doesn’t bear repeating, but I had to fly back Thursday night without seeing a single person I knew. Airport, client dinner, hotel, client site, Starbucks, airport.

From the second I got off the plane in D.C., I drove miserably at high speeds past the flowering trees, wanting nothing more than to stop and get a closer look.

Through a quirk of flight scheduling, Thursday afternoon’s schedule had us driving from Annapolis, which is far to the East of D.C. (for those who don’t know the geography) all the way to Dulles Airport (which is far enough West of D.C. as to qualify as practically being in another time zone). I told the CEO I would navigate us through downtown, skirting Capitol Hill and taking us out the George Washington Parkway. My intention was to get us to the airport faster, of course, but I also wanted, even though I would be driving in D.C. traffic, to catch a glimpse of the cherry blossoms surrounding the Jefferson Memorial.

I came off the Howard Road exit off the Anacostia Freeway and took the turn onto South Capitol Street to cross the Anacostia River toward I-395. And then, past the flowering trees that popped up here and there off the roadway, I saw it. Nationals Park, still under construction. When I left for Iowa, it had just been a concept, and I hadn’t seen it since.

The CEO had fallen asleep in the passenger seat—he was traveling with a bad case of the flu—and so he either missed this next episode, or he did a good job of pretending he was asleep long enough to let me re-compose myself. But suffice it to say I was crying before I even knew what was happening. Springtime in Washington. A new baseball stadium that I had been wishing for for years. Friends just minutes away from the road I was on and no way I could see them. If I could have gotten out of the car right then and sent the CEO on his way back to Iowa, I probably would have.

Iowa has its own spring magic. We just got that annual soaking rain that turns everything from brown to green overnight. And I’m excited about getting out there in the dirt and planting—that’s going to happen sooner rather than later.

But as I listened to the Nats play their opening game at the new stadium, I couldn’t help but wish I was there. And yeah, Prairie Robin. This time of year, every year, I miss those flowering trees.

14 Responses to “Springtime in Washington”

  1. 1 Jen-Ben April 1, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    The East Coast misses you, too. And, the cherry blossoms are rockin’ here, too. Every year, they take my breath away.

  2. 2 inadvertentgardener April 1, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Jen-Ben, thanks…glad you’re getting to enjoy those blossoms, and I’m hoping I get to enjoy them sooner rather than later…

  3. 3 anacostiawen4hu April 2, 2008 at 6:58 am

    Just happened on your blog post from a ‘Anacostia’ google hit and wanted to say how interesting it looks.
    Its a spring day in DC and like gardeners everywhere—theres a million things to be done outside–You may remember we get about two weeks of spring in DC — whether we need it or desperately need it—then it can be straight to the hot weather. Sometimes those two weeks are 14 seperated days alternating with winter sleet, etc and 80 degree hot spells–but like all of us we’re so desperate to be out and around–so— I won’t have time to really ‘wander’ your site–but it looks SO interesting I just had to thank you for your efforts.
    If you get back to DC and hopefully get to see all those friends, etc and get some extra time I can show you some very ‘hidden’ garden treasures ‘east of the river’
    Appreciation, again, for your interesting looking site.
    Anacostiawen4hu aka guerilla gardener

  4. 4 Kathy April 2, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    I lived in the Maryland suburbs of DC from 4th through 7th grade, and the cherry trees were something that tourists went to see. My parents rarely took us kids to Washington, because they were homebodies and there was a J.C. Penney and a grocery store closer to home. I remember a lot of oak trees in our neighborhood, but no flowering trees.

    But years later, when I lived in upstate NY, I finally figured out that they (all of metro DC) had crocus in February, when we were still expecting another blizzard or two.

    And then I was jealous.

  5. 5 Ree April 2, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    there is nothing like the first flowering trees of Spring. At least you saw them, even if from afar. ;-)

  6. 6 Gillie April 3, 2008 at 3:26 am

    Oh I feel for you. I am back up in Sutherland in the far notheast of Scotland, it is only 4 weeks since I was last here and the daffodils are out, the bluebell tips are starting to show, and I am so at peace. We go back to Durham on Monday and i don’t know when I’ll next get up, I’m hoping to make it over the summer some time, but kids commitments etc probably mean I won’t. I am trying to soak up every second, but am already sad about leaving. As Ree said, at least you got to see the blossom. Who knows what’s next around the corner, next week you might find you get to smell and touch them too!!

  7. 7 Jean Ann April 3, 2008 at 7:55 am

    I hear you…we are lucky to have beautiful cherries and other flowering lovlies here in the Pacific North West…really amazing.

  8. 8 PrairieRobin April 3, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Genie!! I’m not sure whether I want to cry over missing the cherry blossoms or rejoice over having another transplant who understands!

    There’s nothing quite like seeing row upon row of glorious pink flowers just when you thought winter would never end. Then there are the redbuds, dogwoods, azaleas(my parents used to take us to Kenwood each spring to see them). I guess the spring here in Iowa comes too late for those beauties.

    You’re right, the prairie has its own beauty which I grow to appreciate more as time goes by. But I still miss DC.


  9. 9 inadvertentgardener April 5, 2008 at 8:03 am

    Anacostiawen4hu, you’re definitely right — DC usually does get about two gorgeous, gorgeous weeks before it’s into the swampiness of summer, but still…those two weeks make it all worth it. Glad you happened by, and please stick around for a wander or two!

    Kathy, yes — DC always beats upstate NY to the springtime, no matter what! And I don’t think your parents were alone — so many folks forget that it’s great to be tourists in one’s own town. Otherwise you miss the good stuff!

    Ree, seeing them was heavenly.

    Gillie, you never know what’s around the next corner — that’s what makes life so very interesting. Enjoy those bluebells!

    Jean Ann, you have all the pear blossoms up that way, too, which are gorgeous!

    PrairieRobin, I find crying and rejoicing at the same time makes life the most interesting. Really. Thanks for posting up that link — I’m off to look at your photos right now!

  10. 10 cole April 6, 2008 at 7:33 am

    I miss our old street in Charles Village..the whole block, the only whole block, that had blossoms on each side of the street. I remember those blossoms framing my bedroom window when I brought Spawn home from the hospital, all 3 lbs 14 oz of him and nursing him in our big bed, so grateful to be home with him. Grateful for his life and the promise those trees gave me. Some beauty and life after a month of hospitals and worry.

    that is what they always mean to me.

  11. 11 inadvertentgardener April 6, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Cole, that’s a gorgeous story — thanks for sharing it.

  12. 12 Susan April 8, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Days late to the party, as usual. I was so sad reading this post. Come back, Genie. Just come back. The flowering trees and I miss you.

  13. 13 inadvertentgardener April 20, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Susan, one of these days? I’m definitely coming back. D.C. will always have my heart. :-)

  1. 1 The cherry blossoms tell you when to plant « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on April 5, 2008 at 7:44 am

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