This morning I'm a tourist in my own city, walking around the Tidal Basin to witness one of nature's best spring tricks, the blossoming of the cherry trees. At 9 a.m., I am one of hundreds. As the day wears on there will be thousands drawn to the fleeting beauty that was delayed two weeks because of the cold.
There are cherry blossoms for everybody.
I see families.
I see Asian beauties ready for photo ops with their boyfriends.
I see a baby in purple scrambling along the grass. And I see two frisky West Highland white terriers exactly the same size trying to play with this weird purple dog.
I see people getting up from wheelchairs to have their pictures with the Jefferson Memorial in the background.
I see a woman in a T-shirt that says "Mom's Gonna Snap."
I see a homeless man rearrange the tarp that he sleeps on to improve his view.
I see Ladies Who Walk. You know the ones I mean, they have a set routine. As they walk they are talking intently, solving the world's problems, especially the worlds of the people they know best. By the time they get home they feel so good! (They think it's the endorphin rush of exercise, but actually it was unloading all those opinions and getting replenished with gossip.)
I see a robin flitting about the trees. Has the bird been waiting for this as long as we have? Did the bird get the reports on the Internet that this annual event was delayed not once, but twice?
I see an old man with no teeth and a tackle box fishing.
Right behind him I see an old woman sitting at an easel painting.
I see fathers with cameras the size of torpedoes posing their daughters under the blossoms.
I see awkward family photo moments on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial.
I see the Washington Monument ensconced in scaffolding, making it look like an awkward teenager who's just gotten braces.
I see the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Memorial all at the same time.
I see the time, and realize I'd better get back to the office. We published two books about the 3,020 trees that Tokyo gifted to America as an act of friendship in March 1912. For Cherry Blossoms: The Official Book of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, and Cherry Blossoms Say Spring, for children, we must have edited hundreds photographs.
Still, I had to witness the pink clouds for myself. I think of them as pink fairies, ephemeral ambassadors of resilience.
I also witnessed nature bring the best out in everyone. I saw incredible patience, even the from the runners who had to weave and dodge. I encountered endless goodwill, people offering to take pictures or ducking out of someone else's frame.
I didn't see a single person on a phone, unless they were using it to take pictures. Everyone, of all walks of life, was really present. In the moment, together. Basking in the healing balm of joy and wonder brought forth by millions of pink faeries, dancing in the air.