Spring, the time of year when one dazzling set of blooms after another take over the spotlight: magnolias, plum blossoms, daffodils, tulips. These are delights I enjoy in my current life in California. When living in Japan during my twenties, I learned that one flower dominated all: cherry blossoms.
I arrived in Japan not knowing the language. Instead of going to a language school for foreigners, I worked with a private tutor. Rather than using a textbook geared for English speakers, she guided me through a series of workbooks used for Japanese schoolchildren, starting from preschool level.
I was surprised at how many times my language lessons focused on the Japanese tradition of hanami, literally “flower viewing.” Hana means “flower” in general, but I came to understand that the tradition called hanami was devoted to cherry blossoms. Why did children’s textbooks emphasize a topic like cherry blossom viewing so much?
April arrived, and I understood. In Kyoto where I lived, ancient trees cultivated for centuries displayed breathtaking varieties of cherry blossoms, from delicate, almost-white petals to bright pink pom-pom shaped blossoms. Grandest of all were cherry trees with willow tree-like branches cascading in a river of pink.
The sea of pink was enough to make a person dizzy. As soon as the blossoms arrived, the wind might take them down. No wonder poets and samurai embraced the concept of cherry blossoms for their poignant, brief existence.
Though we don’t have the ancient trees of Japan in California, cherry blossoms can be seen starting as early as late February and sometimes well into April. Step outside and absorb the colors and fragrances of the season. Keep putting one foot forward!
This week’s HikingAutism Hike Notes from the archives is Japanese Tea Garden Stroll, a popular spot in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, especially as we enter cherry blossom season.
This week’s Hike Notes from the Archives:
(Original Hike Notes 56): Japanese Tea Garden Stroll
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