Each year, as if lusting for the return of a beloved, I look forward to spring in our nation’s capital. I know that at some point the season brings a humble yet powerful treasure. Ephemeral. Fragile. Spectacular. Simple. Nature’s gift –the blooming of Cherry Blossoms. In flush, the trees are a short-lived riot, a festival in white and pink blossoms, ranging from delicate blush to shades of palest fuchsia. From gnarled, twisted branches and sprouting on thick, brown tree-trunks they drape gracefully, flutter in the breeze, shelter the observer beneath a canopy of minute blossoms and softly brush the passersby, delighting the senses of millions.
Living near the center of U.S. politics has its drawbacks: roads at rush-hour resemble rivers of ants crawling in honey; a constant drone of politics fills the airwaves, made even worse during election years, and most months masses of tourists squeeze tight subways and sights – the White House, Capitol, monuments and museums, restaurants and the National Mall – jostling and competing for space with locals. For me, the simple albeit short-lived perk of being near the Cherry Blossom trees is the upside to these snags.
Over a century ago, Washington D.C. received a “gift of friendship”, more than 3000 various Cherry Blossom trees from Japan. In 1912, the city was a small metropolis. Today, as a symbol of power for the free world, it is one of the most visited places in the United States.
My home is within commuting-distance of Washington D.C., my work a few steps from the Tidal Basin, the epi-center of Cherry Blossom madness. With such proximity, it’s inevitable that I’m infected by blossom fever since catching the trees at their “peak-bloom” requires little effort.
For tourists who come to view trees adorned in fragile halos it’s a crap-shoot, a matter of luck. Arrive too early and the blossoms may still be tight, in bud, hiding their magnificent perfection; too late and the radiance is doused, the only reminders tiny blooms adrift in the waters of the Tidal Basin, rain-puddles or trampled in grasses. Each year Mother Nature conspires against many travelers.
If you’re one of the unfortunate ones, don’t be sad. Thanks to technology and the Internet, even if time, distance, money and the weather prevent you from reaching out and touching this bounty, you can still experience the treasures found in nature.
Consider this my invitation to the adventure, to join me on a virtual stroll along the Tidal Basin in search of perfection. Together, we can admire and appreciate one of Mother Nature’s masterpieces,
–the Cherry Blossoms of 2016.
“The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life.”
The Last Samurai (2003)