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Capitol Pill | Cherry Blossoms

We’ve asked Karyn Schwartz, owner of the Sugarpill apothecary on E Pine, to contribute to CHS about health and Hill living on a semi-regular basis. If you’re an expert and want to share with the community in a recurring CHS column, we’d like to hear from you.

(Image: Karyn Schwartz)

(Image: Karyn Schwartz)

I am being tormented by a tree. It’s not every day that I feel such an intense connection to a plant, so when it does happen, I pay attention. This tree is one of a row of huge ornamental cherries outside my window, and they are like the elders of the neighborhood, waiting until all the youngsters have already bloomed and lost their pretty flowers before showing them how its really done.

Everyone who lives on my street knows what’s coming – it’s been the subject of conversation for weeks – the explosion of gigantic flowers that’s on the verge of occurring, and the magical pink light that will fill all of our apartments for just a few days before the petals are blown away. I have been waiting, breathlessly, through their seemingly endless transformation from winter-bare branches to tiny buds and the most recent appearance of early leaves and a million tightly closed blossoms, rushing to my window every morning like a kid wondering if Santa actually showed up – and I cannot bear it any more.

Except — I am having such a good time. There is so little we are forced to — or seem to feel we should have to – wait for anymore, and the slow reveal has been not only educational, but also mystically romantic. It’s like someone is courting me through letters delivered days or even weeks after they were written, allowing me to consider my response, take the time to write it down, and then send it, knowing I won’t have an answer for some time. It’s like the earliest part of a love affair that you can never quite get back – and I am happy to have it drag out as long as possible.

The tree — by refusing for weeks now to finally give it up — is forcing me to consider the virtue of Patience, and with it, the rare loveliness of Mystery. It’s causing me to reflect on some of the less popular laws of Nature: the ones about not rushing things, about not attempting to skip entire stages of progression just because I wish I was farther along than where I actually am, and about accepting cycles of life that almost inevitably include the loss of something dear, even as something else marvelous is just beginning.

In this case, the “loss” will be of the sunshine that has been streaming, unimpeded, through my window for the entire winter. The clusters of expectant blossoms are already filtering out much of that light, and when they are replaced by lush foliage, my view of the sky will be mostly obscured. I can’t hold it against them; I do realize they have needed the warmth of the sun to encourage them to finally unfurl. They even waited through two recent days of moody, stormy weather, knowing if they’d opened up even a couple of days too soon, they would already have been stripped from their branches. They didn’t get ahead of themselves — even though I desperately wanted them too.

Maybe today is the day. I almost don’t want it to happen — but at the same time I can’t bear the suspense anymore. I’m certain the sheer marvelousness of the flowers will make me forget all about the sun — at least until they, too, are gone. Because, of course, I know that almost as soon as they finally open, they are going to fall away. But they will do it with the same brash enthusiasm with which they’ll bloom. The trees are not afraid. They don’t suppress their true nature because of what anyone thinks about them, or out of fear of losing what they only just finally found or achieved. They don’t hold back their own beauty, nor will they attempt to hold on to that exalted moment once it has passed. They’ll just let it go, in a shower of fragrant pink petals that will cover the ground like pastel snow.

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RWK
RWK
6 years ago

Wow!….that is a really beautiful essay. Thanks so much!

citycat
citycat
6 years ago

What a lovely essay. You are a great local business owner, and Sugarpill Apothecary is a fantastic store. I wish I could still shop there. I don’t live on Capitol Hill any longer and the bus service from my part of the CD to the Hill is terrible. Best of luck to you.