The mood of early spring is hard to define. But here and there you get perfect days, cool, not yet balmy but gentle nevertheless, brightening light intensified by the lack of tree cover, revealing the unexpected delicacy of emerging vegetation.
Somehow the Japanese cherry, Prunus serrulata, sums up, in its bloom, the beauty of the season in which it blooms.
Philadelphia, like D.C. and Newark, has a magnificent public collection of cherry trees, thanks to the generosity of the Japanese people, who, for over a century have donated several thousand trees to these and other American cities.
Just from the way the blossoms fall, you feel like you understand Japanese aesthetic sensibility that much better. And there are worse ways of encouraging international understanding than sharing beauty.
Today is Sakura Sunday, the day of the Cherry Blossom Festival. Sakura is the Japanese word for cherry tree. Below is a picture of one of the two cherries we have previously planted as street trees.
And today we planted our third. Thanks to a sale at Lowes, this one is a weeper. It bloomed early and is now without blossoms, but only until next year.
Small at they are now, it is comforting to think how they will look in 20, 50, 100 years. When they grow as large as the wonderful specimens in Rittenhouse Town, trees that each have a history and a personality of its own, like this one below.
Or these two, that seem to be holding hands and dancing.
It feels good sharing beauty, knowing that a future you will never see will be that much better.
I am grateful to the generations of Japanese who developed these trees and shared them with the world.
For the last few months I have had the luck of walking daily thru an exhibit of Japanese prints put up by my accomplished colleague, Marian Jahn. Below is a photo of a portion of one of my favorites of these prints, the photo is taken from the Art Department's Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Art-Department-Free-Library-of-Philadelphia. The exhibit has one more week to run.
When I was growing up my mom would often call my attention to certain things that she felt were the best of their kind; she called this educating the eye. Now I wonder if my exposure to these beautiful prints might have influenced how I have apprehended this spring's blossoming, thus inspiring this post.
We never know all the ramifications of the simple deeds we do in our lives. I thank Marian for all the effort and knowledge she put into this exhibit, because here the influence can be traced and she can be thanked. We owe so much to so many. And as the cherry blossoms fall after their quickening bloom, I hope I can keep that knowledge with me.