Each spring, I survive the long, gray Pacific Northwest winters by counting down the minutes until the cherries blossom. This annual occurrence, usually around mid-March, is when the drab gray skies of Seattle recede into the background at last, outshone by a riot of pink and white blossoms so prolific that they fall like snowflakes all over town.
The first spring we lived here, I waited as the buds swelled on the two flowering plums we had in the yard at our new house. Each morning, I’d check them on the way out to the mailbox, hoping for a riot of color. The neighbors’ trees started to put on their show, while our trees remained stubbornly bare.
“Maybe our yard is too shady,” I said to my husband. “Maybe they’re not healthy enough.”
The leaves emerged, which convinced me they’d never bloom. The flowering cherries and plums I’d seen all around our neighborhood, all around greater Seattle, all bloomed before they leafed out, which is part of what made them so spectacular — nothing but flowers and the backdrop of the occasional beautiful blue sky.
By early April, when rain showers and wind had knocked down most of the gorgeous blossoms, I was ready to get out the chainsaw because my trees still hadn’t bloomed.
Patience is not always my strength, and I’m apt to pull out the metaphorical chainsaw when I get impatient for results. I’ve been at a particularly low point in my journey as a writer and feeling like slashing and burning everything in sight. Even as my freelance editing business grows, my writing has had a series of setbacks over the past six months that have left me questioning whether I’ll always be a better coach than I am a writer, whether I’ll ever hold one of my quirky, magical books for young readers in my hands instead of just my heart.
Then this week, I got a little reminder from Mother Nature that I just needed to be patient a little longer. Those flowerless trees I was talking about? They’re flowering plums, and they’re a beautiful double-flowering variety that blooms after the tree leafs out instead of before. So weeks after the other trees are back to looking like plain old trees, the magic starts in our yard. Our trees are gorgeous, they’re just on a slightly different timeline than all the others. Just like me.
I’m glad I didn’t take a chainsaw to those trees. If I had, I’d have missed out on this little bit of magic:
If you’re feeling like your time will never come to bloom, or feeling shabby in the shadow of friends and colleagues who are full of showy blooms while your branches still feel bare, all I can say is don’t give up. Those blooms are inside you, they’re just not quite ready to emerge. When they do, they’ll be magic.