Summer Is Coming

Dear lord, can't you smell the honeysuckle?!

We have been devoid of Spring. It has not come. It has forsaken us.

Now, it is late May, the trees are in full leaf. As if we had had Spring. But we did not.

Spring comes in small signs and then big gestures. And we have not had that progression. No. We have not.

It is supposed to be portended by the sharp points of the crocus leaves that deliver purple and white blooms in late January or early February and followed immediately by the yellow stars of the forsythia. These flowers bring joy when they disdain the snow and show themselves through the icy crystals. This did not happen.

Instead we had all of the flowers, the crocus, the forsythia, the cherries, the tulips, the daffodils and, even, the iris present themselves all at once and out of order at once. The buds were baffled by the long, rainy and mostly cold time during and after winter, inclusive of the time that we would call Spring.

There have been only four days this month without rain. I didn’t believe it either. I counted. Row by row I counted. And I remembered each cold damp day this month. And unlike any other May that I have seen in Washington, D.C., the temperature did not meet 80°F until yesterday. No. It did not.

There are only five days until the official beginning of summer; Memorial Day when you can fashionably wear white shoes–as if you would, but at least you could.

So tonite as I strolled up and down the street, with The Beast mostly in tow (yes, he tried to tow me, but I was having none of it), I was restored.

I had retrieved him from his hut and swapped my shoes from the sling backs to the sneakers. That damn dog has pulled me out of many a sling back, I tell you.

I didn’t grab an umbrella or don a raincoat or even snuggle into a hoodie for that matter because the night was unusually, albeit appropriate to the calendar, warm. As we ambled, the air was without bite, the hairs on my arms were not called to warm. And then. And then. And then.

There was the perfume of the honeysuckle that filled the entire block, maybe the entire street and perhaps, even, the entire city. It was that big. It was spicy, and sweet and actually radiated warmth, not just in my nose, but on my cheeks and on my forehead and on the exposed backs of my hands and on my knees and my ankles.

It was all of Spring, all that we missed for the past ten weeks, undiluted and concentrated in this fraction of an hour. It was so redolent and so encompassing that I feel that Spring was not stolen from me this year. It just arrived. All at once, in one breath. Yes, it did.

Markers In Time

Entrance to Glenwood Cemetery in D.C.

Lincoln Road heading away from the Shrine curves around like an S up the hill and then curves to the next S–a reversed S that hugs the other side of the hill between the two cemeteries.  It’s a beautiful park on this sunny spring day.

A crabapple tree extends its branches over the iron fence and shades the road. The tree is starting to switch from flowers to leaves. The flowers are like pink painted orbs against the green that is barging in. Just before the first S there is a Japanese-styled garden with a bridge arching over most likely a rock river. This tribute is new. I remember them moving the earth around and creating some moguls before they constructed a pagoda and then the bridge. Mylar balloons tied to one side of the bridge are lurching toward the sky. It seems strange, attaching balloons to the bridge. There isn’t an obvious marker. I don’t think they were from a birthday party–unless it was marking the birthday of someone dead?

Lifesized cement angels herald visitors at the entrance at deepest part of the curve. Well, person-lifesized. I don’t know what the size of an actual angel would be. Anyway, if you were trying to enter the grounds from the north, you’d have to turn your car 270°. Funeral processions always enter from the south for ease and are guided around a large circle with more angels, some blaring trumpets others in thoughtful prayer poses.

This is an old cemetery. The sign says it was founded in 1854. The stones are all different shapes and sizes. There’s some tall ones that look like the Washington Monument. These obelisks are different heights. Is there some status here? There are some twin stones, maybe marking a couple. Some markers are big crosses. There are square crypts that hold families full of remains. There is an old azaela that sits in front of a gravestone and has just about overtaken it. There are tall trees throughout the winding roads of the cemetery. There are lots of low flowering plants.

Modern cemeteries are designed for efficiency. There are no trees and no above ground stones so the groundskeepers can easily cut the grass. The graves are lined up in rows and are navigated to using simple coordinates. Some modern cemeteries limit the types of homage family and friends can leave behind. There is a sameness.

Not at this old cemetery. The grave markings are as different as the people buried here. There are old trees and young ones, too. Somebody is taking care to ensure that there will always be some shade. The grass is mowed, at least from where you can see from the road. Maybe people have to pay a fee to maintain the plots, but none are overgrown.

The leaves on the trees sway slightly and the sun warms the garden. There isn’t a funeral today, but there are a few people coming to visit those who have left them. They have picked a good day to pay their respects and to walk through the garden.


Tonal Morning

carillon bells. They are very big. And loud.

I stand in the front yard waiting for The Beast to accomplish what I thought he was set out to do based on his doleful whine at the front door. He was in no hurry.

It’s not really a cool morning. There’s the backdrop aura of a spring day, but it’s way in the back. In the fore is a damp start. We’re outside in between the rains as I expect it to begin raining again and it had clearly rained not too long before. There isn’t any bite or sting to the air and not really a chill, but some contact with the water vapor that is suspended in the air that is not as warm as the air itself.

The Beast continues to sniff around the yard. Based on his at-the-door antics, I’m a bit surprised that he is being so deliberate and particular. That’s how it goes.

I hear the bells from the church spire. I don’t know the time, so I count the verses. One, two, three. I wait for the fourth, but it’s done, signaling the third-quarter hour. Wheels are hissing on the pavement as cars go up and down Twelfth Street, kicking up the water on the asphalt and whistling it through the treads on the tires.

There are at least three different birds with three different songs in nature’s own Sensurround. One is puncturing the morning with staccato yips. The others are a more melodic greeting of the morning, The Beast and me.

A New Season

How beautiful is that blue on an early spring evening walking down 12th St to the Metro Center Station?

The newspaper has unequivocally declared winter over and spring sprung. Nothing like laying down the gauntlet to the pernicious weather gods. At least I know where to shake my angry fist if there’s a sleet storm next week.

I, therefore, am a bit hesitant to offer that I, too, feel the signs.

As is my habit, I flew down our building’s Cinderella staircase. I kept my shoes on my feet and stepped out to an unfamiliar feel on the street.

It was not warm warm, but there was a top layer of warm to the expected chill of the dusk. Maybe the sidewalks absorbed so much heat from the sunny day that it reflected back–like one of those propane heaters at a restaurant when you sit al fresco on a mild wintry day drinking your brunch. You feel that it’s cold, but the heat does some kind of inversion or some entropy thing and the heat insulates you top down like an airy feather quilt. No weight but the warmth is held in, close to you.

I drew in a breath to identify the scent of spring. All I got was foul diesel from the bus and the stench of a burning cigarette. So the spring wasn’t yet available in the scent sense.

I got off the train and stretched myself like the dog uncoiling his spine as he steps his front paws off the couch while his back end is still anchored there. This move is usually accompanied by a big-mouthed yawn, sometimes with a high-pitched yawly sound effect.

I’m feeling a spring metabolism, skipping down the steps, flirting with the turnstile as I swipe my farecard, and leaving the train station with my chest out, shoulders back and wearing a silly grin.

The escalator handrail didn’t get the memo. It was cold. But the breeze didn’t bully me in to pulling my collar close to my neck. Instead, I left the moving walkway with my jacket open and my gloves in my bag.

Feeling frisky I turned the corner, like la primavera. Ahhhhhh. Feels good.