Springtime in the Nation's Capital

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NPR's Susan Stamberg reflects on the joys of spring in Washington, D.C.

SUSAN STAMBERG, host:

And this final thought in a week that's been marked by so much sobering talk: the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and protests against the war, newly recorded threats from Osama bin Laden, discussions of gun control in the Supreme Court and race in the Obama campaign, not to mention the tanking economy. Did anybody notice that spring began?

In parts of the Midwest, it has meant hideous flooding and loss of life, blizzards and heavy snow blanketing Maine, Minnesota, around Chicago, wild winds in many places - hard to believe that spring is at hand.

Here in Washington, the season fuels hope, though, in the hearts of workaholics. We have had our chilly temperatures and 50-mile-an-hour winds, but there are signs of change, a few signs, which we wish for those parts of the country beset by deadly storms.

Our forsythia are tipping the ends of skinny branches with paintbrush dots of gold. Purple hyacinth have poked up in my neighbor's garden. Redbuds fringe a few trees with some pink, and the best sign of spring in the nation's capital: those daffodils that Lady Bird Johnson had flung years back across some busy public highways so that when you drive past them, you think they're stars shining under the afternoon sun.

We legislate here, we declare the beginning and end of wars, we adjudicate matters of public safety, the right to have handguns, we blabber and opine, and lord knows we deliver and roll with countless punches in the course of a week or a month. But it is spring that's Washington's finest achievement, year after year after even the most disconcerting year.

In this city of innuendo, accusation, gossip and, yes, tough, tough decisions, the arrival of this season is a rumor worth spreading.

(Soundbite of song "They Say It's Spring")

Ms. ERIN McKEOWN (Singer): (Singing) They say it's spring, this feeling light as a feather. They say this thing, this magic we share together, came with the weather, too.

They say it's May that's made me daft as a daisy. It's May, they say, that's made the whole world this crazy, heavenly hazy hue.

I'm a lark on a wing. I'm a spark of a firefly's flame. Yet to me, this must be…

STAMBERG: Erin McKeown on NPR News.

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