I am pleased to report that I have been so taken up with all of our recent blossoms that I have not kept up with this blog. Sakura season in Tokyo is mythic and a simple day or weekend of rain and wind can dash all of those little blossoms and the picnics we anticipate and plan the whole year long. They bloom and I just have to be outside. It is imperative.
I have been caught up with opening buds, with every sign of spring.
And living. And running towards the playground with my kids, their legs longer than I remembered. My son won’t wear pants. He wants every inch of skin out, even in rain or wind. My daughter is now throwing her own tea parties, setting the table and moving every grain and clump of sugar where it belongs, in the dainty pot for her to move with a dainty spoon.
We are observing and planting and seeing each bud open.
There is a sadness, too. Cherry blossoms are fleeting. In fact, this is part of their beauty long admired here in the land of the Rising Sun. This is the poetry. Even the young kamikaze were compared to the sakura. For a moment they live and then, the season is gone.
Last year our Grandfather passed from life to death. He made his circle, a beautiful, beautiful life. And that morning, the morning after I sang to him on Skype, just 15 minutes or so before his death, there was a moment just for me. A clasp, a kind of delicate closure. I rode my kids to school and as I stopped our bike to admire the sakura, one perfect flower dropped from its limb and helicoptered down, perfectly into my hand. Not bruised, not missing any petal or stamen. It spun on the wings of the wind and landed in my hand, a hand that wasn’t even prepared to take it.
Here we are, a year later, new flowers. I’m pregnant with another daughter and just this past weekend, on a cloudy Shabbat, we met under the trees and chanted the Mourner’s Kaddish, the Jewish song when grieving a loved one. It is all there, like a sakura. Life full of promise, a life so revered you cup that person in the heart of your heart, where your hand cannot unclench. The uniqueness of this chant is that through our sadness, in the midst of our grief, we praise the Author of Creation. We acknowledge His Holiness and the continuation of His Glorious Kingdom now and forever. Somehow praise rises up.
I cried and still sang. Tears can fall just as the heart balloons with a new air, a clean hope. Spring is this, isn’t it? The old still falling away while the new marches on, taking with it every nutrient, every bit of oxygen and peace it can.
The next day we were back. All day Sunday for falling petals that rained on our tarps and stuck to our April skin. Soft white, almost pink. Petals in my daughter’s hair, petals on the seats of our bikes. Petals that streamed past our faces and felt glorious. Even though they passed. Petals even lining gutters. Even though it means less puffs, less beauty on the trees, those moments of pink wind and soft petally rain, I herald and take in this spring.
Every day looking up, expecting beauty and yet, shocked by its power, simple and diaphanous. Every day looking through seashell pink petals and the wind that moves. And the next and the next and on and on until pale pink clumps of dried stamens, petals, all crunchy, lay on the street.Flexibility and the trust to keep growing, to keep pedaling through that wind.
This must be spring’s song.