When you think of spring, what comes to mind? Cherry blossoms maybe? The start of a new year, a new season or maybe, new beginnings? I’ve always tended to wonder why we don’t celebrate the new year on the 1st day of spring, it seems so much more fitting. A new year with the onset of spring daffodils sounds so much more serene than a new year in the dead of winter.
We’ve been trying to see the cherry blossoms in Washington DC for 14 years. Yep. It’s taken us that long. With all of our travels to DC over the years we’ve never timed it right. I thought last year would be the year, since we are now living in Maryland, but as it turned out we were in Europe. Everything happens in its own time and our time to finally see the cherry blossoms was now – actually, 4 days ago. They weren’t quite in full bloom, but they did not disappoint.
“What a strange thing! to be alive beneath cherry blossoms.” Kobayashi Issa
The History of the Cherry Blossoms
I suspect pretty much everyone knows a tiny bit of the history of the cherry blossoms, that the trees were a gift from Japan, but what I didn’t know could fill pages. Yes, the trees were a gift from Japan but the initial idea bloomed in the mind of Eliza Scidmore in 1885 after her first visit to Japan.
For twenty-four years Mrs. Scidmore approached each incoming Superintendent of Office of Public Buildings and Grounds to plant trees along the edge of the reclaimed Potomac River. And for twenty-four years her pleas were dismissed. In 1909 she decided she would raise the money herself to purchase the trees and then donate them to the city. So passionate was her cause she penned a letter to the new first lady, Helen Taft, with her proposal. Mrs. Taft responded and the rest, as they say, is history.
April 7, 1909
Thank you very much for your suggestion about the cherry trees. I have taken the matter up and am promised the trees, but I thought perhaps it would be best to make an avenue of them, extending down to the turn in the road, as the other part is still too rough to do any planting. Of course, they could not reflect in the water, but the effect would be very lovely of the long avenue. Let me know what you think about this.
Helen H. Taft
Today, visitors to Washington DC can see the beautiful delicate cherry blossoms as they stroll along the path of the tidal basin. Photographers, professional and amateur alike, set up their tripods along the shore to capture that perfect shot of the perfect cluster of blossoms. With their historical significance and their beautiful pink and white hues of color, the trees really are something special. Taking a stroll under the cherry blossoms is a fabulous way to welcome spring and the start of a new season and maybe, new beginnings.
To read more: