One million visitors in Washington D.C.
No 4th of July fireworks or President’s Inauguration.
One million visitors. Here to see the blossoming cherry trees.
To stroll, picnic, take pictures and delight in the joy of a spring that has at last arrived. The cherry trees at their peak.
Ever since the Emperor of Japan sent the first 3000 trees in 1912, April in Washington D.C. has meant the Cherry Tree Festival. The exact date set by that one particular tree that every year is the first to bloom.
Sure, there is the prerequisite parade and festivities, tee shirts and music, but these clearly not the main attraction. Not why we all have come. The main event, the trees themselves. Dotting the mall in brilliant white blooms by the Washington Monument. Sweeping the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial in a necklace of elegance.
A picture perfect weekend. Sky blue. Mid-60’s. Doesn’t matter that the Capital dome is under construction. The mall torn up. The reflecting pool drained. We are here for the trees blossoming in brilliance.
On the mall, we find our own little cherry tree. Share a picnic.
Stroll the path around the Tidal Basin packed with tourists. But we have nowhere to go. Nowhere to be but here, under the trees, delighting in the joy of trees alive in color, a crowd rejoicing in the gift of this spring day.
Meanwhile, the locals head out to their own neighborhood streets lined with white blossoms. Young entrepreneurs sell lemonade and family photos. A crowd of joy. Smiles. Greetings. Simply strolling. Pausing for pictures under row upon row of trees.
In Japan, each season of the cherry tree’s cycle of life marked with ritual and reverence. Here, in America, a delight in cuddling blossoms, taking goofy pictures. Perhaps, in our own way, we all understand.
Meanwhile, life goes on. The news full of yet another weary round of war, death, injustice and suicide.
Are we ignoring it all here, as we linger amidst trees?
Or maybe come back to the grim realities and present duties that await us all with a different perspective for having wandered here. The time to put it all down for a little while. To rest in beauty. Take refuge in trees.
Maybe, in fact, not ignoring at all. The trials of life. The burdens and anxieties that keep our eyes down, close to the earth. Maybe, here, find a wider holding. This wider holding of beauty, delight, community, joy. This present grace that carries, cradles, releases, heals what we cannot ourselves.
Perhaps it’s all here.
Perhaps, this our joy. Another way to be.
All too soon, it will be over. Another weekend or two and the petals will fall. Flowers of snow on a spring afternoon. So, our lives. Fragile. Beautiful. Fleeting. All too soon, coming to a close.
But perhaps, today, it’s not too late.
Here in Seattle, the city blossoming in a thousand shades of green, yellow, purple and white.
Maybe, just the day to put down a burden and pick up joy.
A simple, ancient delight.
Get outside. Amidst this canopy of color. Stroll in beauty. Nature’s delight.
Breathe deep the fragrance of a flowering spring.
Perhaps, no, not too late for blossoming.
Thanks to the photography team of Anna, Mark and Nancy Horton and Tsuneko Nakatani for the joyful and silly array of pictures to mark a weekend of beauty and delight.