Thursday, April 9, 2015

Extraordinary Ordinariness

The thing about cherry trees is you can count on them. Every year, at exactly the right times, no matter what evils or joys befall the human world, without fanfare, without regard for audience, and within the grand schema of their DNA code, they go about the ordinary business of being cherry trees.

Come early or late freeze, hard rain, heavy drought, hot sun, high wind, mild spring, or ice storm . . . they bloom, release petals, replace them with cherries, feed and shelter birds and squirrels and insects, sprout leaves, grow taller, drop leaves, and rest.

They do this with perfect timing and spectacular beauty whether or not they are noticed, appreciated, lauded, or loved. It's how they live, what they're good at, what they do. After sixty years or so, without comment, they die—when, if left alone, they will host a parade of animals for awhile before decomposing into the earth from which they grew. It's the ordinary life of a cherry tree, yet there's not a scintilla of plainness about it.

The eight cherry trees whose time and place on earth coincide with mine, hold a spell over me in every season, but none so powerful as the one they cast for a few days just after the peak of their spring bloom, when the gentlest breeze can fill the backyard with a shower of floating petals lighter, warmer, drier, smoother, fluffier, pinker, and more meandering than snow.

In the dazzling moments during which the pale petals are engaged in their swinging and down-drifting through the air, I become mesmerized—transfixed in the act of noticing.

Fallen petals on moss under tree

It takes only seconds to perceive the splendor of the falling corolla, an instant to spawn a wish to write about it, but days of failed attempts to find words. Still, for a full year, I can count on the memory and the anticipation of the suspended cherry blossoms to offer moments of grace whenever I ask for them. dkm