In 1912, a gift of 3020 Cherry Blossom Trees were given to the United States from the Japanese to be planted in Washington, D.C. In 1935, the annual Cherry Blossom Festival was created to celebrate the friendship between the two nations and to draw attention to the trees’ beauty as they blossom.
As a kid, I always thought that being in DC during the festival would be one of the most romantic, beautiful places to be. However, growing up in Nebraska made the possibility of attending a near impossibility. Every year, though, throughout college, early marriage, and raising kids, I’d watch the news reports and pictures of the festival. When we moved to the northeast, it became within range of thought that some day I could attend in person. Each Spring, however, it was never the right timing for our family, or we didn’t have the funds to be able to travel to DC.
This year, I saw that dream realized. My dear husband called me from work to tell me that he had heard that the trees were in bloom (a full 3 weeks ahead of schedule due to the extremely mild winter) and that I should take off with the kids the next morning to travel down to see them.
So, at 6am the next day, I loaded our van with my 3 younger kids to take a 6 hour drive to Washington, D.C. Along with our luggage were my hopes, expectations, and dreams.
We arrived in DC around 2pm and stayed walking among the trees until 5pm. It was a relatively short period of time, but an emotionally long time in coming.
What I didn’t realize until we were on our journey was that this was the 100th anniversary of the planting of the trees. Once we arrived, we noticed scores of Japanese media filming the events, people, and scenery.
* The effect of 1,000s of simultaneously flowering trees is staggering.
* The backdrop of our nation’s monuments is picturesque.
* The sheer number of people who swarm to the Potomac basin to walk among the trees is absolutely overwhelming. I’m guessing that we chose the busiest time of day to visit. It certainly wasn’t the peaceful, romantic vision of my youth. It is quite a commercial, port-a-potty-laden, energy-driven event.
I’m not complaining in the least. It was an amazing fulfillment of a lifetime of hoping and dreaming. I just would plan to visit a little differently if I ever get the chance again. A pre-dawn walk or a visit right at dusk would probably be the perfect time to soak in the peaceful element of the natural display. As it was, we got quite a few lovely pictures.
Besides the trees, we got to surprise my eldest at her university on the way home. She didn’t know that we were in DC, nor that we would be traveling right through Philadelphia on our way home. We scheduled a Skype visit with her at a determined time, knowing that she would have to return to her dorm to do so, and were standing outside her dorm when she came back from class. It was such a delight to surprise her, take her to lunch, and spoil her with yogurt and pastries.
There are so many memories created from living in the northeast, and this right at the top of the list!!