Azalea season at the National Arboretum

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On a lazy Saturday this spring, a friend and I biked out to the National Arboretum to take in the peak bloom of the park’s amazing azalea collection.  We’d never been to visit the azaleas and were expecting a good-sized garden filled with colorful blossoms.  Instead we found several acres of shady hillsides, bursting with color in every direction.  Unlike the almost suffocating crowds that choke the tidal basin during cherry blossom season, the park was relatively calm and quiet but just as lovely.  We spent over an hour wandering through the blossom-lined trails and marveling that we could have lived in DC for so long without visiting this beautiful place.

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Magnolia × soulangeana

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I have a secret park.  It’s a few blocks off the beaten cherry blossom path, and for one week every spring it explodes into a little pink magnolia haven.  Year after year, I wait for that week, and when it comes, I go out of my way every day to walk through, quiet and lush, my little secret.

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Wanderings: Chasing spring in Albany

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In late May, we spent a night in Albany, a city neither of us had visited before.  A friend of the Mister’s recommended great neighborhoods to walk through and a fantastic little Italian restaurant, where we happened to be seated next to Carlos Santana, who was in town playing a show.  Most importantly he sent us to Washington park, which, to our delight, was still overflowing with tulips.

That’s the lovely thing about spring, I suppose.  When the tulips finish in DC, just go a little further north and find them in New Jersey, and when Jersey is done with them, go further north still, and Albany will still be bursting to the brim with brightly colored bulbs.

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I will bring her back to you in spring

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I’m floating away on a rosy cloud of azaleas

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She stole the blush from the rose

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After you’ve lived in a city for a while, it can be tempting to avoid the crushing crowds that fill the city during the biggest tourist draws like Independence Day, political rallies and marches, inaugurations, all the museums during the summer months, and, of course, the cherry blossom festival.  And yet, I’ve found the cherry blossoms themselves to be an irresistible temptation.  Without fail, every year I find myself down by the Potomac or the Tidal Basin.  The luscious pink and white blossoms are just so lovely, and you can’t help but feel lucky to have the chance to see them.

Most of my friends have developed strategies for seeing the blossoms while avoiding the crowds.  Some find remote patches of trees, others take boats out on the water.  I prefer early morning or late afternoon visits.  Preferably on a weekday.  One lucky year, it drizzled, and my roommate and I practically had the place to ourselves.

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The world is quiet here

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Spring is full of many lovely moments.  Daffodils.  Tulips.  Cherry blossoms.  I look forward to them all, but my favorite part of the season happens in a quiet park not too far from where I work.  About a week before the cherry blossoms bloom and the city is overtaken with tourists, this little park, lined on all sides by tulip magnolias, quietly becomes a sea of large, pink blossoms.  Every year, for that one week, I walk out of my way to pass through this park, leaving for work a little early so I’ll have a bit of extra time to linger in this quiet, blush-colored oasis.

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The magic spell you cast

It’s hard to imagine anything lovelier than Paris in springtime, and my mother and I couldn’t have timed our visit any better.  The city was aglow with freshly blossomed trees and tulips, and we basked in their glow, spending idle hours sitting on benches and enjoying the sweet smell of blooms on the breeze.

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