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!
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