It was a most gorgeous weekend when the hubby and I went to visit a new (at least to us) tourist attraction in our city. We journeyed with hundreds (maybe even thousands!) of other park goers to participate in the century-old Japanese tradition of Sakura Hanami, or cherry blossom flower viewing. He was out to walk. I was out for the perfect close up photo. Both of us marveled at the shear number of people out enjoying the spring weather… and a little frustrated when we discovered that most of them drove. Traffic was brutal. Some quick prayers for patience and the perfect parking spot had us on our way. We weren’t quite sure what we were looking for as we descended the steep steps and made our way to the interior of the park. So far, the hubby was getting his workout wish. I was getting dirty feet and tired knees.
According to the “Sakura Project” websites, this tourist’s marvel came about when the Japanese ambassador to Canada, Toru-Hagiwara, presented 2000 Japanese Somei-Yoshino Sakurathe (cherry trees) to Toronto citizens on April 1, 1959 on behalf of the citizens of Tokyo, Japan as a gift for Toronto’s support of Japanese-Canadian refugees after the Second World War. The city has added to those numbers, and now a grand display of God’s handiwork awaits the visitor who descends the hill. It really is breath-taking. Visions of royal weddings and Pride and Prejudice scenes are complimentary backdrops to the cherry blossom. Romantic photos of girls in flowing dresses, bicycle rides and picnics with finger sandwiches and chilled champagne …well… you get it. In Japanese culture, the cherry blossom tree represents the fragility and the beauty of life. The brief bloom period of the blossoms act as a reminder that life can be incredibly beautiful — but that it is also tragically short. Wind and weather affect the blooming period as much as our trials and joys affect our lives. This is why the cherry blossom is used in so many Japanese items… stationary, dishes and special gifts. It also accompanies many poems and paintings. Perhaps a gentle reminder from our Maker as well? I think so.
I wanted photographic bliss from this event. I have been learning and playing with my camera and was hoping to get some good shots. Alas, there are too many buttons on a camera. Too many dials and never the right light. Practice makes perfect, they say. Tell that to my photo editing software. *sigh* I will keep trying… Here are a few of my favourites:
So what can we learn from the cherry blossom? Besides the fact that we were happy to spend some time with just each other (flower gazing is not a family event– at least not without picnic lunches and lotsa snacks… and maybe a soccer ball and way less photo shoots). We were also reminded that we need to make the most of our moments… because time is fleeting. This tiny, elegant flower only blooms for a short time. Here… and then disappears. It’s blooming season is easily affected by outside influences… rain, cold, wind. The heartier varieties of cherry trees are the ones who don’t necessarily have pretty, ornamental blooms… but they produce the best fruit. Maybe all that we do to get the most “pretty” look will only work for a short while. I am astonished at how many beauty blogs are out there… the quest for the prettiest face is so real, my friends! Perhaps the true fruit comes when we are well planted and are aware of the fact that we are fragile. The perfect photo doesn’t exist. Not even on Instagram. We have to practice and learn from others. We have to descend the steps and walk a bit of life’s journey to see real beauty. We have to be patient with others. We have to be kind to those who are fragile. We have to recognize that outward appearances, although exceedingly beautiful at times, are not the final destination. Our “blooming” is tragically short… and we need to make the most of it while we get a chance.