Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cherry Blossom Time

I’ve seen so many Japanese paintings and prints of cherry blossoms that I’m not surprised the Japanese gave the US so many cherry trees to plant in Washington, DC. The tiny blossom of the cherry tree is easy to take for granted. There’s a tree in my front yard. First, bare twigs. Next, a little swelling at nodules on the branches. The red nodules on one branch open into palest pink crepe 5-petaled blossoms. In the center of each is a crown of pistils surrounded by a starburst of taller stamens. Girls in the middle and boys (the pollen producers, for plants) around the outside. How many dances looked like that? More and more blossoms open until the tree is a cloud of light pink. This stage is the peak experience. I pick up one blossom drifting across the grass and put it on my dashboard. I look out over the green lawn with restless pink dots. I drive off into the sun. The sun shines through the flower, emphasizing the concave shaping and the crepe-like texture of each petal. I think I could never capture that image, which lives so clearly in my brain, by drawing or painting. The next day, I find one flattened so that the red sepals form triangles supporting the petals. I put that on my dashboard too. The first one is shriveled, but it still lives in my mind’s eye. The tree is now producing red leaves, first tiny, then larger. Soon there will be no flowers and the tree will flame in fresh beet-red leaves. They’ll grow tarnished and brown through the summer and drop off in late fall. I am glad to be able to see this tree year-round.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Geography of Hope

Recently, a celebration of the life and works on Wallace Stegner was held in Point Reyes Station, CA. Stegner was a Western writer, Wikipedia called him the “Dean of Western Writers.” The conference was entitled “The Geography of Hope.” That comes from Stegner’s 1960 Wilderness Letter. Here is the text: “We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.” Does the natural world around us on the West Coast of the USA inspire you will a feeling that it’s the ‘geography of hope?”