Report from Cherry Blossom Central

The two week Cherry Blossom Festival was kicking off Sunday night with a concert event. As for the trees, they had peaked a week before.

I’m just getting used to the cycles of the trees ringing the Tidal Basin, subject of even more celebration this year because it is 100 years since the gifts from Japan first arrived in Washington. But even more than autumn trees that reach a similar glory before losing leafs, the cherry blossoms seem to do so at once.

By all accounts it happened last weekend, when the calendar still technically said winter, and on a St. Patrick’s Day weekend when more were concentrating on green, frankly, than pink.

It hasn’t been much of a winter at all in Washington, with so little snow I didn’t have to use the shovel at all. So this would have to serve: the whitish frosting on the trees leading to the blowing of their pedals through the sky, flake-like. And the new grass was covered for now with a light pink hue.

Because it rained Saturday, the sidewalks along the basin were wet and the pedals seemingly helping make a paste that allowed the pedals to stick to your boots all the way home: secret stowaway souvenirs..

You could still make a passable shot of a sprig of flowers here or there. And everybody sure tried, since just about everybody has a camera in their phone even when they don’t have a big changeable-lens device. Oddest still were the iPads pulled out to take cameras – like using plates from 100 year old portrait cameras – fitting.

A trip around the basin these days doesn’t just afford a look at the Washington Monument (closed since the earthquake seven months ago) and the Jefferson Memorial across the water, but also skirt a couple of newer monuments – the FDR memorial and for the first time for a cherry blossom special, the Martin Luther King memorial, which opened the same week the earthquake – and a hurricane – both hit.

The gnarled wood of the oldest trees were fascinating even without the blossoms at peak, and the pink hue lent to the ground and the edge of the water made things festive.

But the hundreds of trees blooming effect was long gone. And now the activities of the rest of the festival will have to occur with just the memory of its glory.

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