Here in northern VA, the cherry blossoms are at their splendid best. Down at the Tidal Basin, at least some tourists are showing up to view the iconic Yoshino cherries (check the Bloom Cam to monitor the social distancing).
There are a couple of different ways to view the cherry trees:
a) that they are to be revered as symbols of ephemeral beauty, that they should be contemplated in the spirit of hanami to remind us that life is short and we should make the most of it (this view courtesy of the Japanese)
b) that they are a nuisance and “messy as hell” (this view courtesy of my dad)
The topic of spring blooming cherries came up when I visited my dad this weekend. Since we both have mature Yoshino cherry trees growing right next to our driveways, we bonded over the pros and cons of the tree. While I tried to tout the merits of the pale pink blossoms as a wondrous harbinger of spring, Dad was more circumspect:
“The petals fall on the cars and stick like hell,” he said. When I pointed out that the Japanese celebrate the beauty of the delicate blossoms scattered on the ground as the flowers fade, my dad had a different take: “It looks like an army of birds has shat on everything.”
I envision families in Japan gathered to contemplate the fleeting nature of life as they gaze upon the white-pink petals fluttering to the ground. Meanwhile, my dad scrapes the petals up with his snow shovel and dumps them into a trash can.
Dad’s getting older though. He’s nearly 84, moving slowly these days, and I realize that one day I will miss his cranky takes on cherry trees.
Hanami. Life is fleeting.