martes, 21 de mayo de 2013

Spring in Beirut

The last couple of weeks have been a true pleasure in Beirut. The Spring is finally here after a very wet "winter" (I mean, winter for Mediterranean standards). And the Spring has brought one of my favourite things about Beirut: flowers.

One of my earliest childhood memories was the blossoming Jacaranda trees outside of my aunt's summer house. I would walk among these beautiful trees, and just love the purple carpet under my feet and the contrast between the very dark and knotted bark and the fragile purple flowers. 

To my delight, Jacaranda trees are very common in Beirut. And the flowers cover all streets and cars beautifully (and cars get sticky, but let's us not talk about that).

Also, the scent of flowers in the street is truly exquisite. I like to take walks at night around the neighbourhood- taking advantage of the last remaining cool evenings before the sweltering summer arrives- and I come to a sudden halt many times just to relish on the gardenia trees' perfume emanating from people's backyards. It is intoxicating. And there are so many of them! On a couple of occasions, Lebanese friends have brought me from their garden some of these flowers in trays. "We don't know what to do with them" they say. I welcome these gifts gladly. 

These days, when you walk on the "Corniche"- the seaside road in Beirut- you will see several street vendors with little wooden racks, who sell gardenia garlands to cars. It is not uncommon to see a car - a brand new Porsche or a 1984 Mercedes- with a couple of garlands danggling from the review mirror. Forget about the little pine scented things people buy at the gas station! These garlands will keep your car smelling a-ma-zing, even when the flowers have dried up.

I know there are little good news coming from this part of the world these days. However, in the midst of it all, there are still amazing things happening in Beirut. I guess the old saying "Stop and smell the roses" has taken in Beirut a whole new meaning for me.

PS: The morning after I wrote this post, I was entering my car and saw an old gentleman waiting for the school bus with his granddaughter. They were standing next to a huge garnenia tree. I smiled at him and he approached my car... with a gardenia as a gift. Only in Beirut...

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