The Prettiest Time of Year in Virginia

by julie swanson

100_1111I love this time of year and this picture shows why. Absolute Fairyland. When my daughters were little, they used to call themselves the Lavender Fairies. They would go around where we lived at the time, picking people’s flowers to decorate the headstones of the ‘pet cemetery’ they made, where they buried dead birds, etc., and when our neighbor would notice someone’s flowers had been plucked from the beds they’d been planted in, she would say with a wink, “Huh, the lavender fairies must’ve been out again,” knowing that it was the girls and their friends. She even bought them a little porcelain figurine of a winged fairy, like a wood nymph dressed in lavender sitting Puckishly among a patch of flowers. And when I drive around Virginia in the spring and see all the dogwoods and redbuds growing natural in the woods along the roads and highway, the flowing cherry and plum and crab apples, I think of the Lavendar Fairies and Fairyland, that we are living in the most beautiful fairy land. Pinks and lavenders and lacy whites scattered everywhere, against the backdrop of the freshest bright green. This morning it’s rainy and overcast here, but I’m looking out at the scene above as I write today (picture from last spring), just a damper version of it, and the trees slightly larger, and thus even more colorful.

When we first moved to Charlottesville (April 28, 2000, thirteen years ago this coming Sunday), I was so wowed by spring here that I wanted everyone in my family who’d never seen spring in Virginia to come visit in April so they could see it, too. Growing up in the northern Midwest, I always loved spring as well, but here it comes earlier and it’s so much grander. In northern Michigan, you have to wait until May to get anything like what we’re enjoying now. At Easter, we’d turn on the TV to see the newspeople showing pictures of cherry blossoms on the trees at the White House, but outside our windows, it looked like winter. So when spring finally came, you were almost giddy with the sights and the smells and the warmth. But they were different sights. We didn’t have dogwoods in the north, very few redbuds. We had forsythia and cherry orchards and lilac, although the lilacs bloomed later as they do here–the smell of lilac remains one of my favorites. The one thing we had there in Leelanau County that I never got sick of looking out at, and which people there get to enjoy all year long, is the water, the amazing blues and greens of the lakes. OK, considering the water, it’s almost a tie for which place is more beautiful in the spring. But I would bet that there is no more beautiful a place in mid-April than right here in Central Virginia.