Celebration of Spring

Apr 9, 2009

The Annual Cherry Blossom Festival held around the tidal basin area of Washington D.C is in essence a celebration of Spring.

Locals and tourists alike flock in droves to see the beautiful blooms of the cherry trees and to participate in the associated activities of which there are plenty, the Kite Festival, the Cherry Blossom Parade, Fireworks display and the Sakura Matsuri - Japanese Street Festival.

The Cherry Trees were a gift from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, honoring the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan in 1912. I wonder how friendly they were feeling during WWII. I am guessing the Japanese and Americans alike, felt like digging up the roots of those beautiful Cherry Trees and throwing them into the Potomac River during WWII.

I am by no stretch a horticulturist, so why is the celebration of Spring and blooming flowers so important?

Well it was not something I could quite appreciate whilst growing up in Sydney, Australia as the concept of four seasons is not quite felt. The weather in Sydney goes from hot to warm to less warm and then to slightly chilly. You miss Mother Nature in all of it's dramatic glory.

Moving to D.C, everything was turned upside down literally. I left a glorious Sydney Summer to arrive in the middle of a miserable D.C December, filled with rain, strong winds and temperatures well below what I was used to. From the moment I arrived in D.C, Spring was a concept I was very much looking forward to. Watching for signs of leaves on trees, flowers buds about to burst through the ground became an obsession and a constant topic of conversation in my household throughout Winter.

We had set out temperature markers as the winter months wore on. After months of wearing numerous layers and looking like the Michelin man every time we stepped outside, 10 degrees Celsius (translation: 50 degrees Fahrenheit) was our first temperature marker. As soon as the daily temperature reached 10 degrees we were able to shed one of our layers, the dreaded itchy thermals. This especially was cause for celebration for Little Roo who wistfully dreamed of the day that she could once again leave the house wearing only a summer dress and thongs (no I do not let my 5 year old wear g-string underwear. Thongs are what we Aussies call flip flops).

So our first Cherry Blossom Festival last year was met by much excitement, blooming blossoms was Mother Nature's sign that Spring was around the corner. Even though it was still cold by Sydney standards and crowds were in the tens of thousands, we braved it to join in the celebration of the warm weather to come.

We went back again to the Cherry Blossom Festival this year, we are just as eager to feel the warmth of the sun's ray's this year as we were last year.