Cherry blossoms bring out the crowd in the “other Washington.”

not a cherry tree and me

not a cherry tree

Now that I’m retired my days are pleasant and predictable, so I appreciate the occasional surprise.

Earlier, my husband and I decided we would visit the University of Washington campus this spring to see the cherry trees in bloom. But choosing a time hasn’t been easy.  The weather here has been horrid. Fruit trees are blooming all around us, the wind and rain are scattering their blossoms, and we see more flowers under the trees than on them.

Surely a good-weather day would come.  Saturday, we lowered the bar for our definition of “good-weather day.”  We checked the hour-by-hour weather forecasts on-line and found encouragement. The forecasters identified one hour when it would not be raining. We were lucky. That hour would occur while it was daylight, not after dark.

Around noon — the likely dry period — I said, “Let’s go. No one will be there but the two of us and a few students, so parking on campus will be easy.”

When entering the parking garage we wondered why so many cars were coming and going.

As we walked toward the quad, the home of the cherry trees, we saw other fruit trees leafing out.  “We’re too late,” said my husband. “The blossoms are gone.”

picture of people taking pictures

quadImagine our shock when we turned the corner and saw a dozen enormous cherry trees in full bloom and a crush of people admiring them. It was an international crowd.  I know cherry tree viewing is a big event in Japan, but in Seattle?  Seeing the cherry trees in Washington D.C. also is popular, but I had no idea it was such an event here in the “other Washington.” It was also a family show, rated PG for “Pretty Grand.”  Dogs, children in strollers, dogs in strollers, students, parents and grandparents were there in droves.

I approached a booth where two coeds were handing out bottled water.  “Why have so many people come today?  I thought we would be the only ones here.”2 dogs

tree loaded with cherriesSocial media was their answer.  Someone — probably from the university — was tweeting daily enticements: “85% of cherry tree blossoms are open; ” “Cherry trees will be in full bloom this weekend.” “Eight thousand people responded,” the coeds said.

Suddenly the sun came out. We stopped thinking quad2about the weather, started taking in the trees and the admiring crowd, took pictures, and joined in the joyful mood of the people there.

When I was working, I kept a sign over my desk that said, “Kindergartners like surprises, school superintendents don’t.” At this age I’d rather live some days more like a kindergartner and be thrilled by a surprise.



About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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3 Responses to Cherry blossoms bring out the crowd in the “other Washington.”

  1. Evelyn says:

    Loved this! Your photos are great. Nice that you didn’t need to fly across the country–or the ocean–to see such beauty.

  2. Shirley Shimada says:

    Thank you, Ann. The photos are lovely and I’m sorry I missed them this year. I used to go every year even after I retired, but lately I seem too busy. Next year I will go see the blossoms. I used to look out my window at these cherry trees all of the time when I was working. It was a wonderful diversion.

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