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Hunting for blossoms

OF the thousands of Filipino tourists who went to Japan last month to hunt for the most beautiful, most lavish cherry blossoms that spring could yield, how many were disappointed and how many were elated? It depended on their timing and the accuracy of their reading of the weather map predicting the flowers’ budding and blooming.

If they had arrived too early, say on the first week of April, they would have to be satisfied with a mere sneak preview, whereas if they had waited a few days they would’ve been caught in the fullblown explosion of a universe of pink flowers crowning the leafless trees, clouds and clouds, constellations of petals wistfully looking up to the sky or bending down in graceful arcs to favor a camera angle or a selfie. Only in Japan could a foreigner see such floral worship in the people’s eyes and gestures, their love and reverence for the trees reflected in their rituals and traditions. Picnics, poetry readings, cherry-blossom gazing (and feeling blessed should a spray of petals fly in the wind and land in one’s hair), and festivals of all kinds, even those promoted commercially.

Upon returning from my Osaka vacation, was I lucky to find on cable TV the serendipitous event of a BBC feature on Japan’s rites of spring, starring those floaty, light-as-air “sakura” so pink, so white, so ephemeral. Life is short, like the season of cherry blossoms, but what would their fragile loveliness be worth if they lived as long as their made-by-hand counterparts?

Back home and longing for cherry blossoms forever? Where’s the fun in that? So I looked out my window, slowed down my driving, saw how between the sky and the road spread a horizon of soft green foliage stained by the colors of nature’s jewels in pink, red, orange, scarlet, purple, yellow, white. Tropical beauties all, known by playful names like bougainvillea, fire tree, golden bell, April showers, narra, banaba, acacia, gumamela, Donya Aurora. The transition from end of summer to showers and rain could not have been marked by a more inviting sight.
(Jullie Y. Daza)