Friday, April 29, 2011

Dr. Seuss Comes to Park Slope!

People love to talk about how the seasons affect them. It colors everything from small talk over cocktail hours to descriptions of seasonal affective disorder in college psychology books. The mild, sun-filled days of spring are said to dry out winter woes, and for people like my mother, who claims alternately to “swell” and “melt” in the high heat, the fall—with its pumpkin spice lattes, ruby-colored apples, and gaudy Halloween costume displays—is cause for a long, deep sigh of relief. For a long time, such talk was lost on me. Admittedly, part of this is the intensity and quick turnover of my high-low pendulum. I like to run six miles then eat a 3,000 calorie meal, stay up all night writing a paper or reading a manuscript and then sleep the following weekend away. Who, I’ve always, wondered, can wait six months or a year for their next purely good, happy, decadent spell, or reprieve from the rougher, more challenging stretches we all go through, no matter how long or short lived?

It turns out, you’re never too old to change your tune. I moved to Park Slope six years ago and every year I am dazed and awed anew by the purple and white cherry blossoms that line the streets of the neighborhood come April. They’re also in Ohio, from where I hail, but because there’s so much more green, open space there, and because they’re more spread out, they don’t have quite the same effect. Though they can also be found throughout the city, there’s something about Park Slope’s brownstone architecture that makes the trees feel particularly suited to it, and I’ve never found another neighborhood with quite so many of them. Seeing them each year makes me want grass stain up every pair of pants I own playing in the park, and then make ice cream from scratch. They absolutely and fundamentally change my mood every time I see them, no matter how long the day or dreary the task at hand, and the fact that this unparalleled anecdote to the pitfalls of human existence is a seasonal one, sure to be gone by the first hint of summer, only makes it feel that much more magical.

And here’s where the great Doctor of this blog’s title enters the game. He is wed to this moody glimpse of the human psyche because these trees are almost uncannily Seussian in appearance. I would even go so far as to say the trees function in a Seussian capacity. Whimsical, colorful stimulants to even the crankiest and most cynical of adult imaginations, the cherry blossoms embody the spirit of the great author’s works. They're just the sort of exotic, colorful creation he would splash his pages with. Because the petals of the flower have started to fall in large numbers, the Park Slope sidewalks are blanketed in a colorful, enchanted carpet of them, and sometimes, when you’re particularly lucky, it even seems to be raining flower petals. The effect is that the presence of the trees is all encompassing—above, below, on the way down—just as the imaginary worlds of Seuss’s books are. Seuss made a career out of celebrating the wonders and possibilities of this world—the places and things we’ll discover if we’re bold enough to venture—and I’ve found little to trump these trees on that front. I think Seuss would have liked them. Maybe he did.

I have been convinced of this and have been singing this tune to anyone who will listen for almost as long as I’ve had the pleasure to live among these trees. Very recently, though, it was reinforced ten fold when I happened to actually read a Dr. Seuss book right before I journeyed to my Park Slope cherry-blossomed home. This wasn’t intentional. I had ordered the book awhile ago at work as part of the free book selection we have a few times a year, and found it when was cleaning out my mailbox when catching up after vacation. Reading it was simply a procrastination tool. My walk home that night, undertaken just an hour after reading the final pages of the book, made for one of the most satisfying literary experience in a long and fulfilling career of reading. It was a childhood pleasure brought to life, and one I won’t soon forget.

I’ve gathered what’s below in an attempt to entice everyone to go out and see this for themselves. My original plan was to spend the weekend getting in touch with my inner Ansel Adams and take mind-blowing photos that would capture every bit of the trees’ splendor to share on Monday. When I called the Brooklyn Botanical Garden to see how much longer we’d have to enjoy the trees, though, the woman I spoke to said they’d be in “peak bloom” this weekend. By Monday, then, it would be too late to tell you to go. The pictures I do have to share were stolen in the narrow slice of time between my commute home and sunset, and to be honest they don’t come close to capturing the epic delights of the trees. I almost didn’t share them at all but changed my mind because they do capture some shade of what I’m talking about (and because I nearly got hit by a car several times in the process of taking them!). For the full extent of what awaits you, though, you’ll have to take my word and go see for yourself. Get up early this Saturday or Sunday, prepare a big breakfast of green eggs and ham, and go!

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