Hanami, Desert Style

17 Apr

There is very little that Arizona and Japan share in common. Japan is an island that has the standard four seasons. Arizona is in the middle of the desert and is lucky if it has two seasons (hot, and less hot). However, despite their differences, there is one thing that they share in common: Hanami.

Hanami means flower viewing. Traditionally, this could cover a range of flowers, but in the modern sense, it almost always is in reference to sakura- or cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms hold a lot of meaning to the Japanese people. These trees bloom very suddenly in the Spring, and the blossoms die out very quickly. In the short amount of time that the flowers are in bloom, thousands of people will flock to gardens, parks and orchards to view them and hold hanami parties.

The flowers themselves symbolize transience. Many times, it is said that soldiers were like sakura. They bloom suddenly, and die suddenly and beautifully on the battlefield. They are a symbol for our own existence- we live a short life, and our lives can be taken at any moment. It is best to enjoy the beauty of the here and now, because here and now is all that you have.

I love these flowers. They are beautiful and graceful. In the movie The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, the man who runs a very old sakura orchard mentions that sakura is a very empathetic tree/flower. It brings out of us what we want brought out of us. It reflects our own feelings. If you are sad, you will see sadness in the flowers. If you are hopeful, you will see hope in the flowers, etc. And for all of the people who lost their lives last year, many of them see hope in the return of the sakura. Nature continues despite setbacks, and so should we.

Arizona’s answer to the sakura is the Palo Verde (green tree). These trees are all over AZ, and usually they aren’t much to see. However, for a few brief months in the Spring, these trees light up with bright yellow flowers. Usually, the palo verde is mixed in with other desert trees, and you will see these swarms of yellow amidst a sea of green. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see a whole bunch of palo verde trees grouped together, and it turns into a sea of yellow.

I look for the sea of yellow every Spring. I personally feel that these trees are perfect for this time of year, because the Arizona Spring is beyond transient. We’re lucky if we get a Spring at all (usually, it goes from super cold to 100 degrees outside), and I think it definitely is in the desert dweller’s nature to relish in what few mild months (weeks) we get in any given year. I know that soon these flowers will die off, and in a matter of weeks I will not even want to step foot outside due to the heat. For me, this time of year is bitter sweet- because the weather is great, but it’s only a matter of time before the heat sets in, and I’m forced back into my AC driven house. Great Nature is always shifting, and so I shift with it.

I always try to spend a little bit of time every year enjoying these trees. Hopefully, you will enjoy them too!

(Ignore this, this is for Technorati: PSDYN7Q9DDVE)


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6 responses to “Hanami, Desert Style

  1. Josephine Boone

    April 17, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Gorgeous pictures! I had never heard of this tree, so I had to go look it up…

    From Wikipedia: “It has the characteristic of performing photosynthesis in its bark (hence the green color), and this is what allows it to survive leafless in hotter periods.” Wow, neat! 🙂

    The correlation between the ephemeral cherry blossoms of humid Japan and the similarly short-lived palo verde blooms of the arid American Southwest is an interesting one. It makes me think of the red land and the black land of Egypt.

  2. odeliaivy

    April 20, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Lovely blossoms! Vibrant as all get out. It is clear that your heart celebrates these. I wonder if there is a celebration around them like the Hanami. I do not think there are enough good reasons to celebrate in the world. This is a good reason. A host of lovely daffodils would be awed and titter amongst themselves at these yellows so much loftier than they.

    I do like how the plants remind of how short life is but also how cyclical. And the seeding and pollen remind that we do leave our contributions no matter how lost we might feel in the mass of others’ bloomings.

    I’ve only been to AZ once and a friend tok me to Mt. Lemmon to see the multiple levels of ecosystems. I bet you coud see these from one of those look outs. They are brilliant!

    • von186

      April 21, 2012 at 7:48 am

      Currently, I don’t think there is any festival surrounding the Palo Verde blooms. I wish there were, though.

      I’ve not been to Mt. Lemmon before, but I do love the weather around the Tucson area. It’s a lot less hot than up here in Phoenix! lol

  3. veggiewolf

    April 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    I’ve seen them in person once and forgot how beautiful they are. Thank you for the reminder!


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