When the ice cracks, before it starts melting, it’s one of the sharpest sounds, followed by relief; Spring is coming. I read once upon a time in the Little House on the Prairie books that on a big lake where the ice was very thick, this sound was like gunshots. Fortunately, I haven’t heard that noise in real life. I’m grateful.
There is no sound when buds burst and allow tiny, closed flowers to be exposed to the open air. It seems to happen overnight. One day, a tree is full of strange, green little pods that could hold anything. The next moment – perhaps in the blink of an eye – there are full, open, cheery flowers. There are also smaller, closed flowers that wait for the right moment to spread their petals and come into the air. And then there are strongly scened, sweet and teary flowers that burst forth too soon, and now, while the season is still young, their vibrantly-shaded petals are beginning to droop a little. Around flowering trees, the air is often thick, and full of these blooms in varying stages of development. Each one has their own understanding of the weather, the climate and the time, each one acts, bold, shy, or just plain scared to have their moment, and then to fade.
There are more trees in Pittsburgh than I’ve been around in years, despite having the expansive maw of Central Park nearby where I used to live. The last time I was there, in that massive park, I walked in the snow, my fingers numb, I was determined to have that last memory and photographs. It was worth the chilled fingers, again. Here, in warmer temperatures, I walk under many flowers, their aspects certain and hesitant as they make their choices under large skies and curious clouds. I know why they wait – the weather here is the most unpredictable that I have experienced since Boston. That city was tame by nature. Here the flowers are smarter and know more than the weather forecasters do.
I thought I was prepared and so I downloaded the right apps, grew my hair long and threw caution to the wind. I felt my chest crack and my heart burst forth and it couldn’t be contained in a city where every movement threatened to tear away the thin casing of my chest. Did I pick the right season to bloom? Did I choose the right manner in which to showcase my colors?
The problem with opening up into a flower is while something entirely beautiful is created, it cannot last. The petals fall and carpet the ground in a velvety stillness, only becoming distasteful after a long rain. But these simple, vulnerable flowers are making way for the next season’s oddly-shaped and glorious green leaves, without which warm breezes would not rustle, and shade would not be a welcome respite from the seemingly scorching sun. There is no going back to the comfort of a bud. Spring scents will fade, but the air, the trees and the onlookers will all be better for it’s precious, fleeting perfume.
And there is never an ideal time to experience or photograph it