They're back, the jacarandas, crowning the streets of the lower East Side. Everywhere sprawling purple. When you drive down Mason, or up Chapala, pastel smudges tint the shadows, watercolor washes canopy streets.
Every year I anticipate this display, eyeing the almost invisible trees with their dull olive leaves (and especially in this drought year) thinking, "No, it's not going to happen, not this time." And then a sprig of purple appears, and next a bough of blossoms, and finally, oh I of little faith, see like clockwork their return; and I savor the days when jacarandas burst forth like advancing cumulus clouds. And when I drive -- coasting the small streets and the wide -- I follow the purple with my eyes as if magnetized.
Blooming in waves, some of the trees are full now. Others like the moon are receding, spilling spring confetti onto curbs, onto lawns, onto hoods of cars, and tapping my shoulder like the touch of a stranger when I
come in close for a photo.
And in the shade of the jacaranda, as I snap, snap my camera a voice calls, "They're purple, like your hat," I turn to see a middle-aged man in a beige van idling in a driveway. Slightly balding with wire rimmed glasses, he leans forward in his seat, "They're purple like your hat," he says again, "and royal, and they bloom every year." I smile, signal thumb's up and we both nod. He then disappears down Montecito Street.