The Nature Report: Live from the Nation’s Capital

Courtesy of Madi Donat

Hello, and welcome to another nature article. A nature article like any other, where nothing at all has changed.

I spent the past two weeks at home in Northern Virginia, a lovely, sprawling suburb of Washington, D.C. If you are unfamiliar with the character of the place, imagine endless strip malls connected by roads which always have just a little too much traffic to be nice. Also, churches for every denomination you could possibly think of, plus some more for good measure. We like to be thorough in Virginia.

It’s not all late-capitalist suburbia, though. For one, I love the trees: Dogwoods, oak, maple (both Japanese and American) and our hometown heroes the cherry blossoms. The latter were just beginning to bloom over the last weekend of break, and I managed to make my way downtown to pay them a visit. If you’ve never seen them in person, I’d highly recommend it––they’re on every piece of D.C. merch for a reason. 

While there, though, I came to the sad truth that the D.C. cherry blossoms do not, in fact, simply bloom for you whenever you want them to. They were slated to reach peak bloom-age on Sunday the 20th, but this in fact did not happen until around yesterday, almost a full week after I’d left. Very shady of them. 

Courtesy of Madi Donat

Even so, my mother and I managed to snap some pictures of the buds. My mom says that this slight disappointment was rather a lesson in anticipation—in letting oneself be titillated by the mere idea that one day these buds will bloom. Until then, we must remain content with them being almost-flowers. This lesson taught me a lot about life, I think. We must be content with life’s buds. Or something. And, even though the cherry blossoms weren’t out, I did get to see some magnolia flowers. Remember, when you get down on yourself, that even when the cherry blossoms don’t bloom for you, the magnolias just might. Hopefully this brings you peace. Unless you are allergic to pollen, in which case, good luck and godspeed. 

Courtesy of Madi Donat. “The one flowering tree in the whole District.”

The birds, too, were out. I saw the occasional hawk, but was mostly met by robins and cardinals; I was, however, able to see one of the beautiful blue jays which sometimes take shelter in the trees in my backyard. Their cheeps and/or violent shrieks (depending on the bird) brought me comfort, and let me know that spring was in fact coming, even though it had snowed a mere two days before.

Courtesy of Madi Donat.
“A goose by the word-famous Tidal Basin paddle boats.”

That is another peculiar thing about my hometown: The weather never quite knows what it wants to be. In the summer, you are easily guaranteed the hottest, most humid day you have ever experienced, followed by a Biblical thunderstorm which leaves it, you guessed it, still really hot. In the spring, however, it is much more mercurial. It snowed at the beginning of the second week of break, and two days later it was back to sixty degrees and a sunny, cloudless day. I feel like I should be used to it by now, but I suppose twenty years isn’t long enough to get acquainted with the peculiar idiosyncrasies of this place.

Courtesy of Madi Donat.
“My street in the snow.”

One thing which always stays the same, however, is my neighbors’ spider. Of an unknown origin, the giant styrofoam arachnid has been a mainstay in front of their home for years now. I interviewed my neighbor to try and get the scoop. 

She informed me that his name is Aragog. Originally put up many Halloweens ago, Aragog remains, decked out for any and every holiday you can think of. I’ve seen him in Christmas getup, in Fourth of July garb, and even holding a rainbow flag to celebrate Pride Month for Spiders. I’m proud of Aragog on his journey to self-love and acceptance. My neighbor says that Aragog enjoys Pride Month not only because it is a celebration of his identity, but also because he likes to be in costumes for longer than just a few days. Though his stint in St. Patrick’s day attire was brief, I am hopeful that he enjoyed it nonetheless. He also has a froggy friend who sometimes dresses up alongside him. This frog did not have a name, so I shall call him Ferret. His and Aragog’s stylish looks are on display below.

Courtesy of Madi Donat.
“Aragog, be-Irish’ed.”
Courtesy of Madi Donat.
“Ferret in a hat.”

I experienced many emotions over the break, some but not all helped or harmed by the facts and facets of nature around me. Even though the blossoms weren’t in bloom, I still made friends in Aragog and Ferret. And even though it may have snowed far later than I would have liked it to, I got some pretty pictures out of it. When all else fails, know that you can milk your sadness for journalistic fodder. And I live by that. 

Stay safe, my friends, and if I must leave you with one piece of advice, just know that there are so, so, SO many different kinds of hawks along the Eastern Seaboard. Do not attempt to figure out which one is the one that you saw for literally two seconds flying above you before it perched on that tree over there. You will not succeed. You will get sucked down the rabbit hole of a website that uses Comic Sans unironically. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


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