When the cherry trees bloom, my heart sings. It is a sure sign that spring has arrived. This year in Vancouver and the surrounding area, many of the trees have blossomed very early. Luckily, throughout the city there are many different varieties of cherry trees and we can enjoy the blossoms for an extended period of time.
My six years in Japan taught me to appreciate cherry blossom season for more than just its beauty. The flowers bloom in early spring, when they are assaulted by wind, rain, and sharp drops in temperature. The trees are hardy, but the flowers so delicate. A heavy rain can sweep all the blossoms from the tree. In Japan, the cherry blossoms represent fleeting beauty and the impermanence of life. It is a time to pause, give thanks, and appreciate the gifts we have before they are gone. One of the ways people celebrate cherry blossom season is with Hanami (literally, flower viewing). Hanami is the custom of co-workers, friends, and families, gathering together for picnics and evening parties under the cherry blossoms.
In class, we have been learning about cherry blossoms as part of our study of spring and seasonal change. We observed them both inside and outside the classroom; we drew them and made art. Since we have also been focusing on kindness and friendship, what better way to wrap up our studies than with a Hanami picnic. Parents and community members kindly obliged by bringing healthy lunch foods, including mini-sandwiches, fruits and veggies, cheese, crackers, and meats, and sushi. We finished off our picnic with some sweet treats, of course. It was such a fun and happy event.
It’s not too late in this area to celebrate spring with an impromptu Hanami with your class or your children. If you can’t organize a formal picnic, why not grab your lunches and a picnic blanket and eat outside under the blossoms? They may soon be gone… until next year.