Something you lose in being mobile, a new city or even just a new neighborhood every couple of years, is the ability to judge the passage of time based on a handful of constants.
My short walk to work over the past two years has changed very little. It’s not just that I could do it in my sleep – I often actually feel half-asleep when I wend my way across streets and between buildings on my five minute morning “commute.”
A month or so ago, a freak windstorm knocked down a huge pine tree, taking down the fence with it but somehow not crushing the car directly beneath it. I skirted that part of the block for a few days, but then the tree was removed. The fence restored. The car in the same spot, looking untouched.
There are these two trees right outside the Law School that turn the most beautiful red early in the fall, before any other leaves have turned colors. They are my signal that fall is officially here. And those leaves fall sooner than other leaves, too. Every morning for a few weeks in the past two falls, I was taken by their intensity and beauty, both on the tree and on the ground.
And just across the street is the spring counterpart, a tree that bursts with white blossoms and hums with bees right around the time of graduation. I walk under it and tilt my head back to take in the sweet scent. And every day, I wish I had my camera with me and I know that the flowers, the smell, the lovely little surprise, won’t last. Soon the flowers will grow brown around the edges. The petals will drop. And I’ll have no record of this annual ritual, one so insignificant in some ways that I doubt I’ll be reminded of it once I live in Austin.
Maybe it’s my trepidation about moving somewhere with less distinct seasons, maybe I’m feeling nostalgic, or maybe we all just need a deadline, but today I finally backtracked. I went home, grabbed my camera, and went back to snap a few quick pics of this tree, white, fragrant, beautiful. An exclamation point in an otherwise monotone conversation.
Because it is an interaction, the way we do or do not notice our surroundings. The way certain corners come with memories – of kisses, of near accidents, of slipping at icy crosswalks. Of beautiful leaves and crisp autumn air, of blossoms and sunshine.
(all photos by me)