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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cherry blossoms

It's cherry tree season. Some people get jazzed about rhododendron season, but streets lined with cottony blossoming trees in varying hues of pinkness and paved with snow-like drifts of petals are far more glorious. The sky has been absolutely clear and blue for days now, for the first time since last fall.

I've found the perfect walking route: it takes me past numerous blossoming trees; past that decaying cafe that remains untouched inside, like Miss Havisham's cafe if she ever chose to open one; past a house where a cat lives and sometimes perches near the sidewalk (sigh... how I wish I had a cat); past a yard with a few well-mannered and silent chickens; past an enormous abandoned house, surrounded by rusting and rotting things, that reminds me of an old farmhouse on some of Dad's land that we used to explore as kids, and I was always terrified of being attacked by raccoons in the upper storeys; past a huge blackberry patch grown out of control; down a silent residential street where the heavy traffic and ambulance sirens of the main road are strangely absent; up a wide street without sidewalks, but it's a dead-end anyway so you just walk along the middle of the road while people languidly stroll from house to house, chatting with other people leaning on fenceposts just enjoying the day. It feels like a small town with hints of a ghost town.

My schedule lends itself to a strange illusion of depopulation, for lack of a better way to describe it in a word. On Saturdays the morning sidewalks are still quiet, though as the year wears on they will fill; the same handful of people (my Saturday friends and nemeses) come by, with the occasional external event appearing unexpectedly (and predictably) early. On Sundays, almost no traffic goes by on the main road, the noon bus is virtually empty, the sunny sidewalks are also largely empty, and the day at work might pass with no more than a few familiar faces dropping by. On weekdays, much of the world seems to be at work or out of sight, and since I alternate between researching/writing at home and strolling around the neighborhood, I have little reason to go to more populous areas of town. Occasionally I'll wander around the grocery store, shoot the breeze with the affable cashier at till #4 (we have a bit of a rapport), wander on homeward through the silent hospital parking lot (where you rarely see people hanging out). Then on Thursdays when I go to my morning class, there are so many people jammed into the bus that it soon gives up and blazes right by the bus-stops while the waiting students look on forlornly and resentfully, and are obliged to wait for the next bus, or the next.