Monday, April 11, 2005

The insouciance of Spring

We rode down to the Jersey Cape yesterday. When most people think of New Jersey, they conjure up images of smokestacks and toxic waste, the Sopranos and bad taste. But New Jersey isn't called the "Garden State" for nothing. It's also a place where they grow fabulous tomatoes, cranberries and blueberries. There are horse farms with rolling hills and stately barns. It's famous for its pine barrens—miles and miles of pine trees growing in sandy soil.

Highway 55 leads down to the Cape from Philadelphia. Like many of the highways in the nation's most heavily populated state, it's a splendid road, wide and smooth, and almost the entire way all you see is rural landscape. Trees and bushes are abundant in the wide, grassy median. The highway is so lovely, sometimes it reminds me of California.

Yesterday must have been the height of the forsythia season. I never saw so much yellow growing in one place. Everywhere I looked were these flowering harbingers of Spring. It got me to thinking about the lurid colors one sees in this season: the shocking pink redbuds, the acid lime-green of new leaves, everything set off by lacy white blossoms on flowering trees. The insouciance of it all!

These colors will all be gone soon, replaced by the monotonous greens of high summer. I'm enjoying them this year more than ever before. That's probably because I spent the winter in a grimy, red-brick city—and it was a winter that seemed like it would never end.


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