Cherry Blossoms: A Lesson

A strange winter, 2017. Mild, little precipitation, and a late February swing into the 70s had us thinking early spring. Then the early March cold shoulder followed by the first winter storm of the season that has probably taken out the early blooming cherry blossoms (among many other flora). It is looking like a blossomless Cherry Blossom Festival this year. But even before this current weather event, I learned that my favorite tree in DC, the weeping cherry at the Moon Gate Garden behind the Sackler Gallery has disappeared. 

Moon Gate Garden, April 2015

My first reaction was to be upset, saddened and disappointed that I would not be able to visit a personally sacred site, indignant  and angry that someone decided to simply uproot such a beautiful being without reason. But after stewing for a couple of days, I remembered something that photographing the cherry blossoms, and this tree in particular, over the last several years has taught me. Nothing is permanent. 


Just as the blossoms emerge to usher us out of winter's drab gray, they quickly fall and fade, giving way to deep green leaves that absorb the power of the sun's light. Seemingly the more beautiful, the more transitory is life.

But just because beauty inevitably fades, does not make it meaningless, forgettable. Instead its inherent brevity makes it all the more memorable, all the more cherished. Decaying blossoms drift across a sea, moments of time washing into eternity.

But by changing your perspective, finding new ways to look at things, you can put aside anger, sadness, guilt and pain, taking loss as transition, a new light, movement, progress and the opportunity to discover something unique to your own time and place, a lesson learned again and again like the cycle of seasons, promoting endless variations of life.

Perhaps the weeping cherry was suffering, a malady contracted since my last visit. Perhaps it had grown too large for the small urban garden and needed to be moved to a better environment to spread its roots ever deeper, its branches higher, to continue to grow. Or perhaps after all it is just landscaping, time for the horticulturists to do something new with the space, add their own notes to the endless variation of floral motifs in their purview. Whatever the reason for the weeping cherry's departure, it does not diminish my mornings spent sitting in its shade, watching the light seep through its delicate blossoms, held ever so precariously on sweeping fingers grown from strong arms and reminding me that life is delicate, precious, and most importantly temporary.