When I ran into Prairie Robin at the Winter Gardening Fair back in February, we had no choice but to discuss the weather, which inevitably led to a discussion of the ever-so-far-away spring. Prairie Robin is another transplant from the D.C. area to Iowa, and so it came as no surprise to me when she sighed, “I really miss all the flowering trees in the spring.”
I knew what she meant, immediately. Iowa has prairie beauty, but D.C. and its dogwoods and cherry trees and magnolias? D.C. in the spring cannot be beaten.
And those of you who knew me when I lived there and, therefore, remember me with my inevitable allergic-reaction-sparked spring cold that generally hobbled me right around the time those trees all bloomed? Hush up. ‘Cause even when I didn’t feel well, there wasn’t anything wrong with my eyes.
About this time last year, I had the opportunity to take a business trip back to D.C. over a Wednesday and Thursday with the CEO of my company. It was just before Easter weekend, and I had thought I would be able to extend the trip and see friends and family in the area before returning to Iowa. It’s a long story as to why, and doesn’t bear repeating, but I had to fly back Thursday night without seeing a single person I knew. Airport, client dinner, hotel, client site, Starbucks, airport.
From the second I got off the plane in D.C., I drove miserably at high speeds past the flowering trees, wanting nothing more than to stop and get a closer look.
Through a quirk of flight scheduling, Thursday afternoon’s schedule had us driving from Annapolis, which is far to the East of D.C. (for those who don’t know the geography) all the way to Dulles Airport (which is far enough West of D.C. as to qualify as practically being in another time zone). I told the CEO I would navigate us through downtown, skirting Capitol Hill and taking us out the George Washington Parkway. My intention was to get us to the airport faster, of course, but I also wanted, even though I would be driving in D.C. traffic, to catch a glimpse of the cherry blossoms surrounding the Jefferson Memorial.
I came off the Howard Road exit off the Anacostia Freeway and took the turn onto South Capitol Street to cross the Anacostia River toward I-395. And then, past the flowering trees that popped up here and there off the roadway, I saw it. Nationals Park, still under construction. When I left for Iowa, it had just been a concept, and I hadn’t seen it since.
The CEO had fallen asleep in the passenger seat—he was traveling with a bad case of the flu—and so he either missed this next episode, or he did a good job of pretending he was asleep long enough to let me re-compose myself. But suffice it to say I was crying before I even knew what was happening. Springtime in Washington. A new baseball stadium that I had been wishing for for years. Friends just minutes away from the road I was on and no way I could see them. If I could have gotten out of the car right then and sent the CEO on his way back to Iowa, I probably would have.
Iowa has its own spring magic. We just got that annual soaking rain that turns everything from brown to green overnight. And I’m excited about getting out there in the dirt and planting—that’s going to happen sooner rather than later.
But as I listened to the Nats play their opening game at the new stadium, I couldn’t help but wish I was there. And yeah, Prairie Robin. This time of year, every year, I miss those flowering trees.