Hanami

One of the very first things that Zach and I did when we moved to Crown Heights was invest in a membership to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’d never visited the gardens before moving to this side of Prospect Park, nor did I ever consider myself the kind of person who would wander aimlessly under the canopy of trees. Boy, was I wrong.

Every year now, I can hardly contain myself as I wait for the glorious display of cherry blossoms. This year, I started checking the CherryWatch page in mid-March, hoping for signs of an early bloom. Finally, five weeks later, the cherries are starting to pop. As long as we don’t get much stormy weather or wind this week, I predict that next weekend’s celebration is going to be a doozy. In a really good way. Of course I’m going to be out of town. Figures.

cherry blossoms foreverweeping cherries

ANYWAY. Over the last couple of years after many meandering walks through the garden, I’ve thought a lot about the concept of Hanami. Initially, I always thought of hanami in a very literal sense: stop everything, get thee to the garden, see the flowers, and take photos to try and capture a piece of the magical cherry blossoms.

In the last couple of years though, it has evolved moreso into a rite of passage for spring. It’s almost become an emotional spring cleaning for me, because it seems to satisfy my need to cross a bunch of stuff off my checklist. The cherry blossoms give me my annual assignment:

— Get out of the house!
— Get your act together for the year’s gardening plans!
— Go see your friends and family. Don’t be a recluse!
— Be active! Ride your bike! Get to the gym! Get moving!
— COME SEE US AT THE GARDEN!

The cherry blossoms are very practical blossoms. It’s hard to argue with their logic.

promise of spring

So this weekend, I did as I was told and tore the house apart for a round of spring cleaning. I also managed to do a lot of yoga, purged a boatload of paperwork, and got to see the cherry blossoms through the eyes of my five-month old baby cousin, Olivia. The gardening plans are starting to form slowly but surely and I’m confident they’ll come together. (I want to try my hand at roses. Thanks a lot, Marie.)

I don’t know that I owe all of the productivity to Hanami, or to the cherry blossoms, or even to our upcoming vacation this week. But I do think that that it’s a concept I should try and embrace more in my life. The practice of simple appreciation, of gratitude for the beauty which surrounds, of slowing down and being more present — these are all things which really require practice.

And I need lots of practice.

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