For a precious few days there'll be no shovelling snow, no scraping ice off the windshield, no salting the driveway or the sidewalks, no raking leaves and stuffing bags by the dozens, no mowing the lawn, no pruning the hedges. It's the time to order mulch, sink your hands (gloved though they may be) into the wet compost, inhale the fresh smell of damp bark (or not) and feed your plants and trees to sustain them through the hot summer. It's the time to say say goodbye to branches bereft of leaves and welcome the bright green of the first new leaves of the season. Cherry blossoms burst out of their buds and birds come back home for the rest of the season and the summer.
It's also time to prepare for the invasion of the tourists into Washington. The metro trains that are usually packed with suited and booted professionals or uniformed military personnel now have to make space for T-shirted and sandalled tourists, complete with digital cameras in fanny packs and video cameras slung on their shoulders. The monuments are the primary attraction in DC, of course. The Mall is a great place to hang out to go museum and monument hopping.
The Washington Monument aka The Needle
The World War II Memorial
The Vietnam Veterans' Memorial
The metro stations are conveniently located and during the peak tourist season even offer discounted fare during non-rush hour to encourage tourists to stay off the metros during rush hour.
A very popular springtime ritual on the Mall is the Kite Festival. Area residents and tourists alike head out to the Mall with family and friends with picnic baskets, blankets, footballs and kites. If you're lucky you'll get a bright blue, clear sky as a backdrop to show off your kite-flying skills.
An eagle-shaped kite aims for the top of the Washington monument
Springtime also heralds the Cherry Blossom festival, a period of parades, cookouts and just plain enjoying the cherry blossoms around the tidal basin near the Jefferson Monument. It pervades news coverage - television cameras and reporters camp out at the basin; the history of the trees' journey from Japan is reiterated every season; there are interviews with park personnel who predict peak blossom days and bemoan the squirrels who ravage the trees - all in one breath; and inteviews with meteorologists who predict peak pollen counts and therefore the worst days for allergy sufferers (unfortunately, of whom I am the flag bearer).
The craziness ends and life heads back to normal, somewhat, when the trees shed all the blossoms, the petals float away to settle on the water in the tidal basin and all you're left with is body of water that looks like a big bowl of strawberry smoothie.