August 14, 2013 2 Comments
Botany, along with countless other disciplines, is not my strong point, so for the purposes of this blog, I’ll be calling this unidentified tree Pink-Blossom Tree. Although I have half an idea it’s something called an ipê, it could equally be something as beautiful as it is mundane, like a cherry that springs into life as the Tropic of Capricorn slouches out of “winter” and turns the heat up to scorchio.
I use those inverted commas around winter, not because there isn’t a reason, but because there is. In the popular imagination, Brazil has the perfect climate, but over the couple of years I’ve been here, I’ve come to realize the climate is pretty much like it is in most places: either too hot or too cold—but mostly more of the latter. Except, that is, when it gets cold.
Hardier Europeans might scoff from their heated apartments, but when the temperature dips below 15ºC, I slip underneath the eiderdown that one Brazilian airline was happy enough for me to pop into my suitcase for twice the price of the suitcase. But then again, twice the price of the suitcase is just a fraction of the price you’d pay for it here. So when the temperature’s below 15ºC, as they did at the end of July, there you’ll find me, shivering, and looking at photos of cities in the south of Brazil and wondering if snow ploughs were part of the World Cup budget.
But now that’s all behind us, we can concentrate on the zenith-bound sun that is schedule to arrive something overhead right around Christmas. But in the meantime we can concentrate on the beauty of a blossom fest that I would like to say covers the Marvellous City. Only that it doesn’t.
Pink-Blossom Tree is only planted in places where one might be going at speed. One of these places is somewhere I run past, so I freely admit that particular speed is relative—to the temptation to stop. But the other place where I pass by these trees, the velocity feels close to terminal.
Seen from a speeding bus—and Rio’s buses have just two speeds: speeding and stopped, which covers a variety of circumstances including at bus stop, waiting for driver to come from pee break, in traffic jam, fallen off a viaduct, etc.[*]—Pink-Blossom Tree is just a flash of magenta somewhere over my left shoulder and a mental note to come back sometime soon, in sunlight, to take photos. The sunlight part is important, as when you leave work after sunset and are far too lazy to leave the apartment with camera and the dawn, the speeding bus is the only place you’re likely to see Pink-Blossom Tree—and it helps if you’re waiting for it.
So indeed, there I was this morning in a speeding bus, phone in hand and ready to go. And then Lady Luck smiled. Not a full-tooth smile, perhaps more of a sarky grin, but there it was: the traffic jam.
[*] Speeding also covers a number of sins, but more on that some other time.