as our plane circled down over mexico city on saturday afternoon, the boy sitting behind us nearly pressed his nose against the window as he looked over the urban sea spreading out beneath us. after pointing out to his mother a shimmering rainbow that reached into the bottom of the valley, he then noticed something that would hold his attention for the entire descent. i didn't understand when he began repeating, "look at all the purple trees!" his voice reflecting both surprise and incomprehension, his inner rolodex flipping through bits of knowledge as he tried to register what they might be. at first i thought the combination of rain and smog was casting a violet tint over the treetops below, but as he continued to draw his mother's attention to the trees again and again, i snuck a peek past the gentleman to my left and i suddenly understood. the boy was getting a lottery-winning view of the city's jacarandás.
i remember the first time i saw a one in bloom, provoking my own wide-eyed "wow," with the question "what is it?" immediately following. patricio and i had taken a weekend trip to the colonial mining town of taxco, and as we wound our way down the cobbled street, a curve in the road opened to an enormous tree, covered in bluebonnet blossoms. the answer to my question rolled off patricio's tongue like water over river rocks: jacaranda.
a signature ornament of spring here, they remind me of the strawberries-and-cream hued tulip tree that transformed the view of our new york apartment into something a little closer to lovely. the jacarandás here elicit a similar reaction. the purple trees are real, a veritable pot of lavender gold at the end of the valley's rainbow.