PERHAPS MY FAVORITE harbinger of spring arrives in mid-April, when the National Cathedral announces its upcoming Flower Mart . The second I see that wooden sign hammered into the ground, my mind swirls with delight. No other spring event quite captures the colors, the tastes and the international flavor of spring in Washington. (This year the focus is on Asian culture. More than 23 Asian countries, along with Taipei and Hong Kong, will participate.)
Immediately, I contact my fellow flower-marters, to make sure they have that Friday morning clear on their calendar. There is a routine to follow!
First order of business — getting to the White Elephant Sale early Friday morning (there’s always a line). That’s where I found my rhinestone earrings in the shape of a flower, and my friend wheeled away an antique garden cart for her patio.
Next, I must peruse the fabulous display of herbs and flowers, and pick out the hanging basket that is most full of blooms and color. Last year I feared the colors would be limited because downy mildew meant impatiens was not sold in the Washington, D.C. area. I shouldn’t have worried; the flower mart had an array of geraniums in neon colors as well as the fungus-free New Guinea impatiens in tropical orange, tropical punch, celebration blush pink and other extravagant shades.
I proceed to my first walk-through the display of crafts, salad dressings, lawn ornaments and peony bushes for sale under the tents. But all this must be done early enough so that I can get in line for the lobster roll! There’s a booth that plumps down a huge serving of Maine lobster on a hot dog roll, but only on Friday and only until they run out of lobster. I remember this because one year, after waiting in a lengthy line, I was told the last roll had just been sold to a woman who had bought 25. Now I know to be in line by noon.
Inside the many cathedral buildings, there is an opportunity shop that is open throughout the year, but stocks up especially for this event. There is also a book sale outside that runs throughout the year at the cathedral but has much more to offer during the week of the Flower Mart. There are kiddie rides along the side and back of the cathedral and hot pretzels and barbecue. There are booths of baby clothes, and bath powders and rugs for the kitchen. It is a veritable carnival of sensory pleasures.
Following my routine path, I walk down along the side of the cathedral heading towards the Bishop Garden where I pause among the tulips and other early spring flowers and then to the peony bushes and peony trees in full bloom. Finally, I must stop at the lovely benches in the garden and admire the enchanting little settings and reflect on how lucky we are to have this magnificent cathedral, in all its splendor and majestic stained- glass reflections, the sounds of the children in their choral groups performing on the steps, the scent of the cotton candy and the nostalgic melody of the carousel as it turns ’round and ’round carrying the next generation perched to enjoy all that is the Flower Mart.
Lorraine Rose is a practicing psychotherapist in D.C. when she is not besotted with the aroma and beauty of spring flowers.
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