When the last dregs of winter have finally dissipated, and the scent of jewel-toned florals are ushered in by long warm afternoons, Torontonians emerge from hibernation and take off in a feverish scurry for the city’s beloved spring ritual, the cherry blossom festival in High Park. Much like tulip buds peeking through the soil, or the sight of fluffy goslings being herded across the street, cherry blossoms are the greeting call that spring has finally reclaimed its rightful place.
After having just missed the peak bloom period 2 years in a row, I was determined to catch the delicate pink blossoms in their prime this year. As luck would have it, the day before I was set to go, I sustained a fairly serious back injury. One wrong move and suddenly I found myself unable to walk down the stairs, lie down or even get into the car without bursting into a flood of tears from sheer agony.
Immediately, I went for an intense and painful session of acupuncture, and was put on bed rest for the remainder of the evening. After the most fitful night of sleep, during which I kept wondering, “What if I don’t recover in time to see the cherry blossoms tomorrow?” dawn finally broke. Although I still had to move slowly and gingerly (which is difficult when your mind hasn’t fully accepted that you’re injured, and still wants to go at 100 mph), I was thankfully able to resume my usual movements without crying at the drop of a hat.
In springtime, our senses are delighted by the vivid colours of new beginnings, and even the most ordinary of streets is transformed into a garden by the presence of dogwood, crabapple or magnolia blossoms. But none is more beautiful or more majestic than the cherry blossoms. Their gentle, understated grace, coupled with their fleeting beauty, makes their appearance all the more precious.
Standing in awe in their presence, it was humbling to be reminded of the impermanence of life. Cherry blossoms live brilliantly and die fast, but for us, life is only just beginning.