By Devasmita Chakraverty
March and April are two of my favorite months. This is when the excruciatingly long winters come to an end, and new life springs in every corner and crevice. After seeing nothing but grey, snow white, and the bare skeletons of trees, it is a welcome change to see life sprouting, as buds, colorful flowers, and green leaves. Have you ever noticed the fresh greenness of the baby leaves in spring? The temperature has risen, but not enough to make you uncomfortable. The hours of daylight is slowly beginning to increase, the lakes and springs are beginning to spawn life, and there is much joy experienced in taking long walks, or sunbathing in the grass for hours, reading a book, or simply watching the world go by.
The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. is one of the most awaited occasions for me. The festival heralds the advent of spring, and everything has turned a beautiful shade of white and rosy pink. I have always loved walking the streets of Washington, D.C., a city replete with life, history, museums, architecture, and much more. However, come spring, and the city turns all the more beautiful. That is when I know it is time to make a visit to see the cherry blossoms.
When to go:
Keep checking the website for the announcement of the peak season. This is when about 70% of the trees are predicted to bloom. The tidal basin is covered by a canopy of pink and white flowers that looks breathtaking. Be aware that sometimes the peak bloom dates change dependent on weather. This year, the peak season came earlier than expected, because we had a mild winter and the temperature had started to soar before we knew.
Weekend versus weekday:
While the weekend is marked with activities, shows, and events, the sheer number of people around you can be overwhelming. The Cherry Festival sees tourists visiting from all around the world, and typically more people show up in the weekends. I usually try to visit the festival during the weekday, because the crowd is somewhat manageable, and I get some space to take long walks, click photographs, sit on the grass and read a book, and have a relaxing time.
Traffic gets impossible during this time, and finding parking can be a challenge. Try taking the bus or the metro that takes you close to the Tidal Basin (where most of the cherry trees are). I usually park my car in one of the metro stations, and take the metro or the cab. Expect traffic delays and escalating meter costs if you take a cab. Be prepared to walk for hours. I typically visit the Tidal Basin and walk the circumference of the basin, enjoying the views of the Jefferson Monument, the Washington Monument, and much more. If time permits, I explore the national mall and the area around the Potomac river. I pack some sandwiches and water with me so that I do not go hungry or thirsty (although food is plentifully available). I typically spend some 3-4 hours walking and taking pictures.
I have been to this festival before, so this year, I focused more on taking some good pictures. I had upgraded my camera from last year and was hoping to get some good shots. I had checked the weather prediction and things were supposed to be bright and sunny. However, Mother Nature played fickle the last moment, and I woke up to a morning of fog and overcast weather. I did not have much choice, and tried to make the best use of the light. It is a strange coincidence that both the times I have visited this festival, the weather has not been at its best despite sunny predictions. Hopefully, next year.
Some of the pictures I took that day are in the album from my photography page, something I recently started. I hope you enjoy the pictures.
Happy Spring !