Authentic Spring

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Spring is now upon us. Larks all across the northern hemisphere are no doubt taking this as a call to be on their wing, and their compatriot snails on the thorn, but for me, it is time for my seasonal predicament: as an immigrant, can I ever get as authentic as a Bay Area spring?

Blossoms of peach, apricot, cherry, pear and plum are mostly what I newly see all around. This is not surprising, given the orchard heritage of the Santa Clara Valley. Of course, they don't stretch for acres, as they apparently used to, early last century, but they are commonly found in the landscaping of many offices, stores and homes. Cities and towns have taken up where the residents left off, using them as ornaments to line their streets. It is therefore hard to miss spotting them, or, having seen them, not be struck by their beauty. But I am not sure whether I should consider these blossoms as true signs of a Bay Area spring, since, as best I can tell, these fruit trees aren't really native to the area.

It could be argued that these signs of the season don't even need to be native. After all, these trees have taken so well to the climate and soil of this region that they might well have been indigenous. Also arguable is just how long do flora have to be a part of a geography in order to be commonly identified with that area -- clearly, even a few hundred years seems too little, but should they have existed all the way back to the last Ice Age to claim legitimacy?

As a non-native in a non-native land, this is more than just a botanical question. It's personal, and the success and status of the valley's fruit trees, something to aspire to.

Until then, even if it takes some effort, I can continue to seek out plants, trees and wildflowers that are truly native to this area -- these I will take as my true signposts of the season. For the rest, I'd rather contemplate the arrival of the iPad -- which, as we all know, is from right here in Cupertino. Or at least designed here. Or at least conceptualized.


With a Perspective, I'm Sriram Raghunathan.