24 Mar 2011

Ichi, Ni, San: It's DC Sakura Time!

Photo by María Helena Carey, who has been stalking trees.

It’s the most wonderful time of year in DC, unless you have allergies: it’s the time when every day you look out your window or stroll down the street, a new tree is just blooming like crazy!  Of course, among all the blooming majesty of star magnolias and tulip magnolias and peach trees and flowering plums, the true regents in all our hearts are the magnificent Yoshino cherry trees.

Ever since our friends in Japan sent over 3,020 cherry trees 99 years ago, in March of 1912, we have been coddling and babying these wonderful show-trees and following their growth and progress and bloom time (we try not to talk about those ill-fated 1910 trees that ended up as kindling).  And what better way to help Japan in spirit than to reflect on the ethereal and ephemeral beauty of these blossoms?  Appreciate the beauty of the blooms all over the Hill and not just around the Tidal Basin!  

The Sakura — Japanese for cherry blossoms — represent the concept of impermanence and remind us all that we are fragile and temporary.  So you can take your budding Buddhist practice (and my terrible pun) and walk down Massachusetts Avenue, NE, between Stanton and Lincoln parks; down 10th street, SE, from East Capitol to Pennsylvania; on North Carolina Avenue around Seward Square; around Eastern Market and the Hine building, between 7th and 8th; around 3rd street, Garfield park and Results; and just about anywhere you can catch that fleeting glimpse of near-white blossoms, although the streets I’ve mentioned are among your best and prettiest bets.  The blooms will peak soon around the Tidal Basin, which means that while our favorite tiny flowers ever will soon drift away in swirling piles of petals, we’ll shortly be seeing the arresting beauty of double cherries, redbuds and dogwoods.

If you wish to help out Japan not just by philosophizing and gazing lovingly at our neighborhood trees, you can always donate.  You can follow this link to donate through GlobalGiving.org if you wish.

PS: If you have a favorite cherry tree around the Hill, won’t you share its location in the comments?  My favorite is the early bloomer at Watkins Elementary, on the corner of 12th and D, SE.

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