Thursday, 16 May 2013

Cherry Blossom Girl

It seemed as though the cherry blossom trees would never blossom, but they did. A month ago, the pale pink cherry blossom tree in the front garden was almost bare. Now the blossoms have come and pretty much gone. No wonder the Victorians took their flower meaning from the Asian countries where cherry blossom had originated from. 'Impermanence' feels like an unhappy symbol, especially when you consider something that you don’t wish to end. It’s a beautiful and dignified flower for mourning. But on the flip side, impermanence can give hope about something sad – illness, despair, anxiety – hope that it won’t last forever.

I have flowers now to give me a small amount of comfort when life feels difficult. But years ago, a friend quoted some lyrics to me from a song called Hang On by the singer Plumb, and the message was the same: I acknowledge that things are hard now; but hold on, and it will pass.
“Hang on when you're barely breathing
Hang on when your heart's still beating”.

I’d like to go to Japan one day (I blame Sofia Coppola’s sublime film, Lost in Translation, which has some lovely flower scenes), and it would be amazing to see cherry blossom trees there. If I ever get the chance, I’ll have to choose when and where to go. There are 20 000 trees blooming at the start of the season in late January in Nago, Okinawa, and 300-year-old trees flowering as late as the end of May in Kakudate, Akita. Apparently the temperature in Okinawa doesn't drop below 10 degrees Celsius, which sounds rather wonderful after the UK's cold and prolonged winter. The average winter temperature there is 18 degrees!

All of these photos are from Greenwich Park, two weeks ago. At the top of the park, where you can see the stunning views across London, there’s a tree that has both pink and white cherry blossom.

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