April 15, 2017
“The bud is on the bough again,
The leaf is on the tree.”
— Charles Jeffreys, The Meeting of Spring and Summer
This year, for the first time, I noticed something about the blossoming cherry trees. When the blossoms first appear, there are still no leaves on the trees!
I discovered this when I contemplated painting cherry trees, and because I find it difficult to paint white things, I looked for green leaves to break up the massive sea of white. But I looked in vain. There were no leaves to be seen. I thought that was odd, since I had never remarked upon the bareness of the trees once the blossoms fell. I was determined to watch and see when the leaves would appear.
In the second week of bloom, I saw tiny tree leaves start to appear any the ends off the branches. Over the next week, they leaves grew substantially.
I now see that when the cherry trees lose all their blossoms, they will be clothed in new green leaves. Spring is rushing ahead.
March 26, 2014
“Since every variety of tree and plant comes into bloom in its own time in one of the four seasons, we prize the timeliness and rarity of the blooming of each. . . . Now what we call hana or ‘flowering,’ what we call ‘interesting,’ and what we call ‘rarity’ are not three separate things but really one and the same. But all flowers eventually are scattered, none stays in bloom. And it is precisely because it blooms and perishes that a flower holds our interest as something rare. . . . to know the flowering is first of all to know that nothing abides.”
— Zeami, from Kadensho, translated by William LaFleur
“Death is the mother of Beauty.”
— Wallace Stevens
Cherry blossom viewing carries with it a Japanese sensibility, the awareness of the ephemeral. It is heartening to see such a diverse group of people enjoying the magnificent blooming cherry trees on the University of Washington campus. These Yoshino cherry trees are a natural wonder.
March 24, 2012
Hanami means “flower viewing” in Japanese, but it has come to be associated with the appreciating the annual blossoming of Japan’s famous cherry trees. In the next week or so, we will have the opportunity to experience hanami in Seattle when the Yoshino cherry trees burst into blossom on the quad at the University of Washington campus. I visited the campus this week, and while a there were just a few trees starting to blossom, most were still holding back.
March 23, 2012
“Spring is always poignant because nothing stays. It must be caught and appreciated on the wing, for soon it will be gone.”
— May Sarton, The House by the Sea: A Journal
This is the time of year when Seattle streets are lined with flowering ornamental cherry trees. The blooming trees are the glory of our neighborhoods. But March is a windy month, too, and the sight of these trees is all the more poignant knowing that this all this beauty will soon pass.
“March is a good word for the first month of spring, because once it gets going, it’s steady, ever faster, breathtaking in its timetable of joy.”
— Rebecca Otowa, At Home in Japan: A Foreign Woman’s Journey of Discovery
April 11, 2011
Our cool, gray Seattle spring is prolonging the cherry blossom season here. Sakura, or cherry blossoms, are so lovely this year.
Garr Reynolds, one of the bloggers I follow at Presentation Zen, recently wrote about the cherry blossoms in Japan, where he is living (you can link to his blog here: http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/2011/04/spring-cherry-blossoms-give-hope-to-new-beginnings.html). He writes about the symbolism of the short-lived blossoms, and finding the lesson in nature that ” life is precious and short and must not be wasted.” Sakura also symbolize “starting a new chapter in life or of starting over with a renewed sense of hope and optimism.”
Mr. Reynolds has close ties with Japan, and I found one of his earlier posts about the resilience of the Japanese one of the best things I’ve read about the recent earthquake, tsunami, and its aftermath. You can read his post by linking here: http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/2011/03/fall-down-seven-times-get-up-eight-the-power-of-japanese-resilience.html.
I think about his words as I enjoy our cherry blossom season in Seattle.
March 30, 2011
While we were away in Texas, spring was slowly advancing in chillier Seattle. The day after our return, I stopped by the UW campus to see if the cherry trees were in bloom. Just a few branches sported blossoms.
Yesterday I returned to the UW campus. What a difference a few days make! The Quad was now lined with cherry trees in full blossom. It was well worth a second visit to see such a beautiful sight.
As I wander under the cherry trees, I cannot help but think of Japan and the haunting beauty of its traditional cherry blossoms amidst all of the devastation from the recent earthquake and tsunami. The fleeting beauty is a metaphor for life.
“The enduring and poignant (wabi-sabi) power of this image of the cherry blossom comes from our ever-present awareness of the ephemerality of it all. A moment before there were no blossoms. A moment hence there will be no blossoms . . .”
— Leonard Koren, Wabi-Sabi for Artisits, Designers, Poets & Philosophers
March 5, 2010
The cherry trees on the quad at the University of Washington have just come into blossom. They are Yoshina cherry trees, planted on campus in 1964. My daughter, who is a student at the UW, called me to let me know that the trees have bloomed. I expect that more blossoms will pop later in the week. They are early this year.
Cherry blossom viewing, called hanami, has been a Japanese custom for centuries. I feel fortunate that we can celebrate this traditional rite of spring in Seattle, too.