|A while ago, Netizens posted images of pink poui trees (Tabebuia rosea) near Khanh Hoi Bridge and alongside a section of Dien Bien Phu Street – PHOTOS: THANH HOA
As a self-taught painter, I often give Saigon different sketches which focus on this city’s disorder, noisiness and excessive volumes of smoke and dirt. However, this afternoon, when the sun became less intense, a different picture appearing on the way in the backdrop of the bright color of the Golden Bells, or Yellow Bells, seemed to take away part of my troubled soul. In addition to edifices and streets packed with heavy traffic, Saigon does have its beautiful flowers.
I began to notice the first clusters of Golden Bells flowers coming into sight at a place adjacent to the alley leading to the paths running alongside the railroad. They would soon be in full bloom one after another. From a distance, the trees wearing their brilliant yellow color apparently filled part of the gaps in the sky.
|A beautiful scene includes flowers and a high rise
I stopped for a while to take pictures of the flowers. There I met an old couple, perhaps in their sixties, who were sweeping withered blossoms on the ground. The husband bent his back to gather the fallen flowers while the wife was waiting behind ready with her dustpan. The couple gathered waste in a leisurely way in the street while the traffic was not heavy as if they were in their own yard.
Both said blossoms would fall in droves. There were so many of them that the fallen blossoms seemed to have been in place in the following morning although the couple had cleared them all in the afternoon of the day before. The wife said she and her husband had lived here for decades. As soon as a new wave of flowers blossomed, the bright color dyed the whole path yellow. The flowers, together with the old railroad, prompt visitors to think that the scene is in somewhere else, not in Saigon. This place is also a favorite venue where young people hold their photo sessions.
|Golden Bells flowers coming into sight at a place alongside the railroad
When listening to the conversation between the old husband and his wife, I remembered Saigon also has its own flower seasons. A while ago, Netizens posted images of pink poui trees (Tabebuia rosea) near Khanh Hoi Bridge, alongside a section of Bien Bien Phu Street and on Ham Nghi Street right in the heart of Saigon. A devoted photographer even took pictures of a cluster of pink poui flowers looking like a heart. He named his work “The Heart of Saigon,” which is so nice and easy to me. Another woman photographer, who is in fact a retiree, went around town to capture images of pink poui flowers. Her hundreds of photos deeply moved me. This woman said for five or six years, every time when the pink poui flowers came, she took her camera with her and photographed the flowers. Then, during meetings with her old friends, she would show them her photos of the blossoms representing happiness.
|The yellow flowers which are both bright and soothing
Aside from pink poui flowers, Saigonese, who are both young and middle-aged people, came in groups to a long fence formed by bougainvillea at the entrance of a university in District 7. Their eagerness shown to the blossoms soon spread to news sites which immediately featured photos of flowers.
My remembrance reminded me of some rare romantic scenes in Saigon, where streets lined with flowering trees approach their seasons naturally without the need of gathering ornamental flowers in a spring flower fair or a flower street when the Lunar New Year comes. The flowers may be the dark yellow of blossoms of Brazilian ironwood (Caesalpinia ferrea) which look like dots in the green foliage on Truong Dinh Street in District 3, the brownish “fruit” of the dipterocarpus tree on the corner of Truong Sa Street or the brilliant red of flamboyant blossoms in playgrounds of some spacious schools.
Yes! Saigon should have flowers to give more softness to its rigid cityscape and lightheartedness to its indifferent inhabitants. Just like on the long days in which the city is soaked in long rains or burnt under the scorching hot sun, Saigonese have a chance to be more fashionable with new costumes and have time to realize this urban center remains romantic after all. It sounds a little bit sentimental, but it really counts after exhausting daily jobs.
The painting of my life is dotted, of course, with grey and boring patches. However, when watching the old couple sweeping fallen blossoms at the foot of the Golden Bells tree, a thought came to my mind. Alas! Saigon is accommodating numerous people and it still manages to save places for blossoms and lush trees. And it is I, who am alone, feel heavy in my heart. How come?
When totally fatigue, I will tell myself that this city has too many exciting things. Its flowers will bloom not only for one day but many days. Then I will feel soothed.