When we arrived in Washington the city was just emerging from what had clearly been a really tough winter. On our first day our taxi driver concernedly drew our attention to the lack of blossom on the cherry trees and everywhere shops and restaurants had signs up bemoaning the weather while inviting you in for some kind of winter warmer. The enthusiasm for the first signs of spring was obvious – the local news gave daily, if not hourly updates on the progress of the cherry blossom and local weather men got excited about the emergence of the smallest amount of colour in the trees. As soon as the sun appeared the bars and cafes on 18th street set up their terraces and were soon thronged with excited interns and students. True, they were clustered round patio-heaters in their coats, but this was spring!
However, the season has still not quite turned – spring is not yet sprung. Indeed, we have been victims of quite a few false starts. Last Saturday the Washington Post happily proclaimed the ‘first day of spring’; I read this while I watched the snow falling outside my window. Sadly they had to cancel the kite-flying festival that weekend. By Tuesday things were looking better – I had a lovely day walking round the tidal basin and got sunburnt while watching one of the cherry blossom festival’s free concerts down there (check out Wes Tucker and the Skillets if you’re a country/folk/rock fan). But then this Saturday, forecast to be lovely, and looking beautiful from inside, we were fooled into going out without our coats and found ourselves a few hours later shivering in the stiff Potomac wind as we walked up the mall. There was kite-flying a-plenty that day. We took refuge in the Lucky Bar, where beer and quick fried, warm tortilla chips made everything better. Too cold to go and see the fireworks, we decided we’d make up for it on the 4th July.
And it continues to be changeable. Today – of course – we took our coats and ended up having to carry them on our arms round the zoo, while we got sunburnt again. Tomorrow it will be raining and 8 degrees (we’re still working in centigrade thanks to the BBC).
(Cherry blossom outside the Library of Congress and the Catholic church)