After the fires that burned everything and the rains that never seemed to end there was, at last, a day when the sun shone and the air was warm and scented not with ash but with the promise of Spring. He pointed to the sunshine falling through her front window onto the worn rug in a wind-shimmered pool of light. “Do you want to take a ride out into the Spring?”
“Oh, of course, let’s see what’s going on around here. I’d love to get outside for a bit.”
So he brought out the wheelchair and, after some maneuvering, got her seated and wrapped up with scarves and blankets so that not a wisp of cold could find its way to her. Then he opened the door and out they rolled for the first time in weeks.
Outside it was a fine afternoon; a spring afternoon even though most of the trees sported bare branches just beginning to bud. The bright red camellias were everywhere though and he plucked a few of these and set them on the blanket covering her lap. Outside it was pretty much all blacktopped parking lot but she’d never had been one to look down. She looked up instead at the clouds she always liked to track in the skies vaulting Chico from the Ridge above to the farmountains of the coast range. There were enough there for her to see and identify as they rolled along.
Then they turned the corner towards the apartment’s swimming pool and picnic spot. There they stopped. In front of them was a large tree looming over all the other trees except the dawn redwoods. It was covered all across its crown in massive clumps of white, white blossoms; blossoms so white they could have been a pure snowcap on a tallmountain in January. Even though her eyes were failing her she turned her face up to those suspended drifts of a white and clear spring and said, “Oh my, oh my, isn’t that the most beautiful thing we’ve seen yet?”
They rolled on and got to the swimming pool and the small lawns and tables around it. She had him take her and place her in a way that she could feel the sun on her face and hands but so that it did not dazzle her.
They sat there for a bit. Not talking very much at all, just enjoying the warmth of the spring sun together. Then for a bit, he read her from How Green Was My Valley, the book she had been trying to read on the tablet he’d taught her to use; the tablet that made the print large enough for her eyes to follow. Then they talked a bit more as the sun fell lower in the sky. It became colder so they started to make their way back to her small apartment where she’d lived for over 40 years.
They came back to the tree of the white blossoms. A wind was coming up and the blossoms were being blown from the branches.
She had him stop under the tree for a time and she let the white blossoms from the tree drift down and rest on the ground, and on her lap, and in her hair, all twirling and glimmering in the sunlight like some gentle scented snowflakes.
“So pretty,” she said. “See how white they are.”
“We can come back tomorrow,” he said. “We could have a picnic in the sun by the pool.”
“So pretty,” she said again looking at a few blossoms that had fallen into her hands. “Okay, I’m ready to go home now.”