Blushing petals of Yoshino-cherries, Prunus x yedoensis, opening up towards the sun peeking out between the leaden clouds.
At noon today, 70 boxes of children's clothing are being collected to be airlifted to an orphanage in northern Japan. Since the recent tsunami, they are in great need; instead of having 40 little wards, they now have 70, and the number is still growing. This operation was organized by a young marine biologist who is deployed in Japan by the US Army; during his leave at home in our neighborhood, he wanted to do what he can to ease the distress of the people in the catastrophe area.
Despite looking almost ancient, these trees were moved to the 'Quad' in 1964, away from highway construction near the Washington Park Arboretum. Cherry viewing has become an important springtime celebration at the University of Washington, for students and even other residents of Seattle.
I'd been reluctant to publish my pictures of the blossom-laden cherries that are just now opening up at the Liberal Arts Quadrangle ('the Quad') at the University of Washington in Seattle. After all, sakura, or cherry blossoms, are inseparable from Japan, where they have been celebrated for centuries with Hanami, cherry viewing parties, and where their fleeting beauty is considered a symbol for ultimate beauty and quick death, and a metaphor for the transience of life. Contemplating this felt all to literal, to insensitive, in light of all recent loss and sorrow in Japan.
Yoshino-cherries are relatively short-lived as trees; their expected lifespan is only 80 years. These trees are nearing the end of theirs, but still provide a luxurious show every spring, flowers sprouting out even from their gnarled, moss-covered trunks.
But disasters do happen, every day, on every scale, everywhere in the world. Ignoring beauty around us does not help anyone in need, just like empathy without deeds does not lead anywhere. As an older, (gardening) lady in the neighborhood said earlier when Haiti was daily in the headlines: "there's no use whinging, just count your blessings, and do something practical to help". Which is exactly what this young man did. So, I'm not congratulating here myself in public for doing good, I'm thanking him and his co-helpers, who did "something practical", and provided us others with an excellent chance to do so, too. With these cherry blossoms, I thank you all.
* Clouds of young blossoms, just starting to open up.
In just at couple of days, shell-pink cherry petal confetti will cover the brick-clad pathways and soggy lawns between the Gothic revival style University buildings.