Last Thursday, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. Unable to sleep as morning’s light began to steadily peek through the slats in my Venetian blinds, I tossed and turned for another hour before I realized the source of my restlessness: Flowers.
Specifically, I was being kept awake by the tempting thoughts of the cherry blossoms in DC, which at that very moment were emerging in peak form just a few miles from where I was attempting to sleep.
I wavered for a bit, but finally a force more powerful than the desire to sleep prevailed.
“Aw, screw it,” I said to myself out loud. With that, I jumped out of my cozy, inviting bed a full hour before my alarm was set to go off. If ever there was a motivating factor to speed up my typically sluggish morning routine, it was the sun rising higher and higher in the sky. Every minute that I dawdled was one minute that I’d miss morning’s glorious “golden hour.”
I was out the door and into an awaiting Uber within 15 minutes. The destination? The Tidal Basin near the MLK Memorial. The perfect spot to experience DC’s cherry blossom beauty.
I’m not sure what it is, but the Tidal Basin’s trees (a 1912 gift from the people of Japan) have always held a certain allure with my family. It began with my grandfather, who instilled an appreciation in them with my mother, who then passed the obsession down to me. Three generations of flower-loving photographers, to whom no spring is complete without a visit.
As a child and throughout my teenage years, my mom — who would never let me stay home sick from school unless I was near death — would actually have me “stay home sick” one day each year while the blossoms were peaking so we could have our annual pilgrimage to see the trees in full bloom. It became a tradition that I would eagerly look forward to year after year.
As an adult, I’ve continued the tradition. I’ve seen the blossoms by limo, at sunset and even on the way to the airport as I embarked on a month-long trip to backpack around New Zealand. But until last Thursday, I’d never seen the district’s cherry blossoms at sunrise.
At the risk of sounding cliché, I have to say that witnessing the blossoms under the morning’s soft light was a bit magical. There were very few people (which was a treat in itself), and the few people that were there were equally enchanted. You could practically feel the happy energy radiating off of the crowd.
After an hour of wandering amongst the trees, it was time for me to head into work. A fleeting moment, but one that I’ll remember always.
Here are some of my favorite photos from my morning visit to the cherry blossoms in DC: