Monday, February 21, 2011

Longing for Spring

Last Friday, as I was walking back from an unsuccessful attempt to find freeze-dried strawberries from the St. Lawrence market, Toronto was in the throes of its first hint of spring.

It was 9 degrees and gorgeous.

Practically t-shirt weather, I tell you.

And now, with the threat of snow looming, all I can think about is this:

Sakura tree
 The picture above was taken in my tiny little Japanese village back in 2006. This particular tree was down the hill from my house.

I just love these double blossom sakura trees. They have these huge pink puffball blooms. Gorgeous.

While I loved the trees in my town, the most beautiful, magical cherry blossom experience though was, hands down, found in Kyoto.

The Philosopher's Walk
We had a picnic this trip along the river of the Philosopher's Walk. Crackers, wine, prosciutto, cheese (real cheese!), olives, cookies. It was heaven on earth; the perfect hanami party.

Hanami (花見) literally means flower viewing. In short, people go out to sit beneath the trees, eat lots of food and get quite drunk all in celebration of the fleeting beauty of the cherry blossoms. Lanterns get strung up, trees are illuminated. If you're watching the flowers at night, it's called yozakura (夜桜), which literally means night sakura. At this point, you'll probably see a few businessmen stagger down the streets singing at the tops of their lungs.

Even on a hazy day, Kiyomizudera looked pretty awesome.


But, best of all, was the night we arrived in Kyoto. The trees were in full blossom and totally illuminated. It was, hands down, one of the most magical, otherworldly experiences I've ever had.

I remember thinking to myself as we walked down the perfumed streets, blossoms gently falling in the wind, that this was what walking through Narnia must have felt like for Lucy. I don't know that I've ever felt so full of wonder and joy by a place.

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