Reina and I have been discussing the signs of spring since the Spring Festival, especially since the city decided it was time to switch off the heat on March 15. We both like snow and winter, but with so little snow this past winter and plenty of dry, cold weather, we are both ready for warmer days and a greener cityscape.
Over the past few weeks, we have noted the melting of the ice on our pond, the slow return of insects, the first hints of life in otherwise dormant fields of grass, and a rise in the volume of birdsong in our Wangjing neighborhood. Still, we don’t officially call it spring in our family until those first blossoms on the trees arrive; that’s when life is breathed back into the world and the Technicolor profusion of the season explodes before our eyes. More so than usual, this year I’m impatient for its arrival.
Yesterday, while walking home from Reina’s school, my fingers numb from the chill wind whipping through my jacket, spring snuck up on us in the form of a lone tree with a smattering of whitish pink blossoms. When Reina spotted the tree she stopped in her tracks and asked, “Baba, are those real blossoms?” Having seen enough faux spring trees in Beijing, she is cautious about these things. I hauled her up onto my shoulder so she could reach the lowest branches and see for herself. She carefully examined the delicate petals and the tightly packed leaves beginning to protrude from the branch and proclaimed. “Baba, it’s real. Spring is finally here!”