Kenmore Cherry Blossoms.jpgThis morning we finally found time to visit the rebirth of cherry blossoms on the tidal basin near the Jefferson Memorial.  My husband and I took care of all the morning’s business, planning as we cleared kitchen counters and put away the homemade muesli and sourdough bread.  We debated taking the dog.  We debated taking the Metro or trying to find parking.  By the time we got in the car at last, rush hour (for which this area is justifiably famous) had ended.  Michael even knew which bridge to take over the Potomac.  We were set.

Except, as it turned out, we weren’t.  We weren’t set at all.  Because this past week, while we luxuriated in clear, sunny weather, the cherry blossoms shriveled.  They were briefly glorious, then they were gone.  We only caught the epitaph.

Not that it really mattered.  Because after a harrowing drive through traffic to see them, we couldn’t find parking, and after several turns around the basin we headed home.  Sadder and wiser.

Spring in Virginia is stunningly beautiful.  Flowers open like a well organized Easter parade.  First the Japanese magnolias, then the Bradford pears, then the cherries, followed by redbuds and dogwoods.  Only, not this year.  Due to our unseasonably warm weather, the parade was on steriods.  The butterfly magnolia in our front yard was spectacular for one day before soft gold petals began to drop. A hundred daffodils are now paper thin and wrinkled.  The tulips were buds, and a minute later–or so it seemed–they were flat as saucers, turning up to the sun which will wilt them by week’s end.  Time lapse photography in real time.

So the photo above?  Last year’s blossoms, when our timing was better. And lesson learned?  Never wait to enjoy spring.  Like so many wonderful things, it passes, sometimes quickly.

In March, I lost my sister-in-law.  Lee was the bride in my blog “Love at the Dollar General.”  She passed surrounded by people she loved most, peacefully, thanks to hospice care.  Her death was not unexpected, but it is lamented.  Lee, like spring, burst into bloom then passed before some of us really had time to know her well.  But she left part of herself with those who took time to pay attention.

I may have missed the cherry blossoms, but I have taken long walks every day to feel the spring breeze.  I’ve weeded my gardens to falling petals and the music of bird song.  And in November, for the first time, I took time to listen to Lee and share her life. 

Every time we stop and pay attention, the rewards are immeasurable.

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