Now that I’m retired my days are pleasant and predictable, so I appreciate the occasional surprise.
Earlier, my husband and I decided we would visit the University of Washington campus this spring to see the cherry trees in bloom. But choosing a time hasn’t been easy. The weather here has been horrid. Fruit trees are blooming all around us, the wind and rain are scattering their blossoms, and we see more flowers under the trees than on them.
Surely a good-weather day would come. Saturday, we lowered the bar for our definition of “good-weather day.” We checked the hour-by-hour weather forecasts on-line and found encouragement. The forecasters identified one hour when it would not be raining. We were lucky. That hour would occur while it was daylight, not after dark.
Around noon — the likely dry period — I said, “Let’s go. No one will be there but the two of us and a few students, so parking on campus will be easy.”
When entering the parking garage we wondered why so many cars were coming and going.
As we walked toward the quad, the home of the cherry trees, we saw other fruit trees leafing out. “We’re too late,” said my husband. “The blossoms are gone.”
Imagine our shock when we turned the corner and saw a dozen enormous cherry trees in full bloom and a crush of people admiring them. It was an international crowd. I know cherry tree viewing is a big event in Japan, but in Seattle? Seeing the cherry trees in Washington D.C. also is popular, but I had no idea it was such an event here in the “other Washington.” It was also a family show, rated PG for “Pretty Grand.” Dogs, children in strollers, dogs in strollers, students, parents and grandparents were there in droves.
Social media was their answer. Someone — probably from the university — was tweeting daily enticements: “85% of cherry tree blossoms are open; ” “Cherry trees will be in full bloom this weekend.” “Eight thousand people responded,” the coeds said.
When I was working, I kept a sign over my desk that said, “Kindergartners like surprises, school superintendents don’t.” At this age I’d rather live some days more like a kindergartner and be thrilled by a surprise.