If you live anywhere near me, you know exactly where Cherry Blossomland is. Nestled in Branch Brook Park, which is mainly in Newark, NJ, it’s the areas where most of the cherry blossom trees are located. True, at this point, the trees are scattered throughout the city, at least throughout the North Ward, where I live, and line the streets of Forest Hill, and are in other sections of the park as well now. The main area, however, the “big show”, as I like to call it, with a nod to Papa Elf, is over by Clara Maass Hospital, and it’s called Cherry Blossomland. If you’ve never been, you’re missing out. It’s beautiful. Simply breathtaking, especially when they’re in full bloom. Even more so, in my opinion, just after they peak, when a wind picks up and the petals start blowing everywhere. Then, then it’s my favorite time of year: when it snows white and pink petals. Pink snow. Too perfect.
Thinking of this, as I drove through the park the other day (because I believe you should always drive through the park if it’s at all possible), I realized exactly why I love these trees so much. You see, I’ve loved them as long as I can remember. These trees are like members of my family to me. I worry over them when we have a bad winter, and almost as much when, like this year, we have a mild one. Then, they can bloom too early and die too soon. When I see one, knocked down by the wind in a storm, I have been known to tear up. These trees are a part of me. (And before you start wondering, I’m not a tree-hugger, not by a long shot. No, it’s just these trees, my trees.)
Cherry blossoms seem to have one main purpose, to me at least. I know they play a role in the ecosystem. I’m sure they must. But in reality, what do they do? They provide neither food nor shelter. They’re not generally used for heat either. But my God, are they pretty. With every bloom, they praise God simply by the fact of their existence. Each time I see them, I am reminded of God’s goodness in giving us not only what we need, but what we can enjoy. He does not provide this wide world for us packed solely with the necessities of our bodies. He also provides beauty for the solace of our souls. Cherry blossoms fall predominantly into the latter category, and for this reason, I love them.
Being such a gorgeous day on Friday, we took the kids over to Cherry Blossomland and took a walk. On it, I reminded my children of Mommy’s Rules for her trees (which I got from my Ganna): no climbing and no picking. Harming these trees is just not allowed on my watch. But, we did allow them to run, to look, to explore, and to appreciate the beauty of God’s wonderful world. We took
a few a ton of pictures along the way. And now you get to look at them all (ignore the fact that I’m being that mom, the one that holds you captive until you look at all her pictures of her adorable kids; thanks).