The first thing I noticed walking through Cambridge (Boston), where I had gone for a work-related meeting, was an abundance of flowering Chinese or Kousa dogwoods; unlike the one in our garden, which had only three flowers this year (but which was three more than last year), these were mature trees, covered in thousands of white blossoms. There were also some late-blooming rhododendrons, which are not common in New York City (unlike Berlin, where they fill the parks), or at least not at this time of the year. The houses I passed in west Cambridge were both stately and charming, but without being austere or cute, which let's face it is a nice balance. Roses spilled over the fence over the narrow red-brick sidewalk. Except for the car (and maybe the asphalt), it could have been 1914. A fellow obsessive had apparently been inspired by the narrator of JK Huysmans' masterpiece Against the Grain to paint his or her house in tones of blue and orange. I mentally awarded this house the World Cup of architectural restoration. Most of the houses with mansard roofs have been torn down in New York City, but there are still quite a few left in Cambridge, all of them filled with ghosts peeking out of the windows.
I passed yet another perfect dogwood. And another, even more perfect. Next year, ours is going to look like this. (In the garden, there is always hope.) I took the train home, following the foggy coastline. I sat in the "quiet car" and did not hesitate to look with great scorn at the woman across from me when her phone erupted with "Venus" by The Shocking Blue (even though I -- like everyone else in the world -- like the song). Back in the garden, the leaves of our dogwood glowed in the sun, which is another kind of perfection. We enjoyed the light while we could, knowing that some big storms were rolling in from the west.