A quiet murmur resonates across the water, carried by a brisk, invigorating breeze. There’s a bubbling excitement in the air, one generated by the long-awaited release of spring from Father Winter’s icy grasp. Pedestrians walk by shoulder-to-shoulder, overtaking the frustrated drivers left honking in the stagnant, congested road nearby.

Couples both young and old caress each other gently, walking hand-in-hand along the Tidal Basin’s edge. Kayakers and pedal boats float across the shimmering pond, while the ducks and geese weave in and around the all-too-familiar trespassers drifting through their home.

Photographers stand idly by their mounted cameras, patiently fixated for the cherry blossoms to flitter in the gentle breeze just so. On the exposed grass lawns beginning to emerge from winter dormancy, students bask below a shower of pink and white pedals, lost in their literature and prose. Meanwhile, groups of friends delight in each other’s presence as they take turns posing for their profile.

The rumble of military choppers disrupts the steady murmur of the Basin as they glide over the marble dome of the Jefferson Memorial. Several hundred feet above, an airline jet coasts by on its descent into Reagan National Airport. The ubiquitous presence of military and commercial aircraft alike serves as a poignant reminder of the significance a place like this carries.

It’s springtime in Washington, DC, when its world-renown cherry blossoms bloom along the Tidal Basin. The anticipation had been building up for weeks, ever since the projected three-day peak of the bloom was announced. Now that it was finally here, it seemed the whole city was out to soak in all its beauty.

Since moving here last summer, I’ve only just begun exploring the city in the way a typical tourist might. In some ways it’s been intentional, the blissful disregard that stems from the privilege of living in a place with such historical and worldly significance. But as of late, I’ve been embedding myself more and more into all the unique experiences the city has to offer.

The cherry blossom bloom, in particular, was item number one on that list.

It was a truly joyous experience, as the ravishing beauty of unfolding flowers have a way of illustrating the release of tension within. So much of winter is about self-perseverance in the harsh and demanding environment of the season. Spring, however, with its budding trees and blossoming flowers, is winter’s antithesis. It’s emblematic of a greater rebirth that can be felt at a personally intimate level. 

It’s something to which we can all connect, as evidenced by the thousands of people that are drawn to visit the Tidal Basin during its peak bloom every year.

The blossom of any flower, not just the cherry blossom, is really an admirable experience to witness. When the budding flowers finally open its petals, it exposes its true and full self to the world in a grand unveiling of all it has to offer. It proudly displays its inner and outer beauty, a beauty that it objectively defines for itself.

Some lucky few will be chosen by the bees and the butterflies, who through cross-pollination will spur the growth and expansion of the flower’s future generations. Others, however, may not be so fortunate.  

To compensate for the unknown predictability of this inherent state of natural selection, flowers must ensure their continued existence by blossoming in sheer massive quantities. 

In light of this, one might even suggest that these flowers are “hedging their bets.”

It’s an expression with which many may already be familiar, but it’s one I’ve been contemplating for quite awhile now.

It first came to mind when I heard a song called “Just Like You,” written and sung by Taylor Meier under the pseudonym of Sumbuck, but more widely-known as the lead singer of the Ohio-renowned folk band Caamp.

It has a simple, solemn melody and performed with an aura of pensive melancholy.  

Take a listen… (lyrics below)

Is it done? is it true?
Every word, every line that you thought you drew
And on your tongue, something new
White rose in the crack of a sidewalk
Comin' up through, just like you
Just like you, just like you
Oh, don't you know, it's true

Shoot your gun to the moon
Fleeting hearts run when they see love walk in the room
And now you're gone far too soon
And i'm left hedging my bets
On which flower will bloom, just like you
Just like you, just like you
Oh, don't you know, it's true

Is it done? is it true?
Have you found love in somebody new?
Forget-me-nots, your perfume
And i'm left thinking i need
Somebody just like you

Merriam-Webster defines the expression “hedging one’s bets” as meaning:to do things that will prevent great loss or failure if future events do not happen as one plans or hopes.”

In other words, to hedge one’s bets means to take an action that increases the likelihood of a favorable outcome, if not the desired one. 

It’s an action that one can perceive as ingrained in human nature, directly related to advancing the perseverance of our own personal interests. 

And on an even greater scale, our survival.

Which I guess explains that, while I’ve been content in the life I’ve now established for myself in yet another new city, I still can’t help but feel as though there’s still something more.

Sure – I’ve finally attained the stability I’ve personally aspired to for so long, which truly bestows a sense of comfort and peace of mind that I never allowed myself to experience or truly appreciate before. 

At the same time, however, I find another comfort in the fact that this doesn’t have to be the endgame, either.

And that’s okay.

For this is not a disagreeable feeling to have; rather, this is what enables us as humans to keep wanting more, to keep pushing forward toward something new and something better. It’s a feeling that liberates one to genuinely savor the present moment that all-too-often goes neglected.

So maybe like the cherry blossoms in the springtime, it’s just in our nature to keep hedging our bets…

Simply to see which flower will bloom. 


4 thoughts on “Bloom

  1. At some point,I think you should write a memoir of all your experiences. You bring the cherry blossoms to the point I felt like I was there and I’m sure others would agree.

  2. Aah. . .Cherry blossom time in Washington! I have so many memories of field trips to Washington. A few times we actually were present when everything was in full bloom. . .what a delight! Students loved that trip! And now that i have just retired from teaching for 41 years, I know I will miss those places of beauty I was lucky enough to share with students! I will have more time to enjoy your pieces of writing, now, Scott!

    1. Yes, the blossoms are a beautiful time of year to experience Washington! I was grateful to have finally gotten a chance to see them. Congratulations on your retirement Mrs. Connors!

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