A wider look at the Capitol
A wider look at the Capitol

One of the few nice things about working an ass-backward schedule is that often my “weekends” aren’t really weekends. And when it comes to the Cherry Blossoms that plays to my favor. Mid-week is still busy…very busy, but nothing like the absolute insanity of a weekend during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Even so Metro says they had their fourth busiest day in history with 870,000 trips taken. And a gold star to everyone who took the train rather than driving into the city. The traffic was snarled and miserable, and I still don’t understand why people feel compelled to drive into a situation that’s going to be insanely busy when there’s a cheap alternative way to get into the city.

As it happened the day I had off coincided perfectly with peak bloom and beautiful weather. I rode my bike down to the MLK Memorial, locked it up and went for a walk…I made it all of 800 feet before parking myself on a patch of grass in a tunnel of pink flowers. And there I would sit, for two hours.

In front of me was a tree, gnarled with protruding knobs at irregular intervals…branches splitting off incongruently. This particular tree grows at a 45 degree angle from the earth, clutching desperately against gravity. In winter the tree’s something from a haunted forest…all of these trees are spindly, deformed and ugly. But come spring this gnarled beast transforms into something gorgeous.

An ugly tree turns pretty
An ugly tree turns pretty

People seek it out, waiting in line to take a photo. It is remarkable, where just a week earlier it was forgettable.

The perfect breeze carries along the Tidal Basin and through the trees. In the shade it doesn’t cool to discomfort…it’s at that perfect temperature where you can’t feel temperature. It put me in a state of homeostasis with my surroundings, it’s a beautiful feeling even with all the people crowded around the trees.  So I took my time to enjoy it, watching as flower petals drifted with every breeze.

“This is where it gets good, where it starts to get a bit wonderlandy…” a guy said to his group of friends as they walked behind me. And that’s probably the best way to put it…for a few days every March/April the Tidal Basin turns into a wonderland.

I spent the day walking around the entire basin, just taking my time. I shot a few time lapses that I’ll publish once I produce them. And I took a lot of pics, as did pretty much everyone.

There is a lot of walking involved when it comes to site-seeing in DC, but definitely during Cherry Blossoms…so be prepared. Bring a blanket, some snacks and plan on a picnic…and give yourself a lot of time to enjoy the experience. And wear comfortable shoes, because…like I said, there’s a lot of walking, as evidenced by this interaction:

“If I lived in Washington, I’d be extremely skinny,” says a man.

“If I lived in Washington, I’d kill myself,” says the mans rather corpulent wife.

I’m fine with the walking, it’s all part of the fun. I ended up staying until near sunset…then I met Lauren as she got out of class and we went right back to the Tidal Basin for a walk at dusk. Just another reason why living in the District is amazing.

By the way, random fact: the average bloom date is April 4th, the same day Dr. King was assassinated…part of the reason for all the new trees planted at his memorial.


Tags : Cherry BlossomMartin Luther King Jr. Memorialnational cherry blossom festivalTidal BasinWashington DC
Kris Ankarlo

The author Kris Ankarlo

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