The Setagaya gardens are a little further out of town. Rather close to where my friend, the wise archer Rami lives with his cat. The journey takes time, yet every spring, a friend and I prepare for it at length and in detail. Sometimes the preparations begin in the still of winter, for every visit there needs to be calculated. Should one arrive too early, the garden would be snowed in and the temples would be out of bounds. Should one, however, arrive a moment too late, the cherry blossoms would be wilted, and the garden would have to rely only on its green foliage to make itself look impressive.

We counted the days this particular year; we packed for the journey. Halfway there we stopped at an inn for a brew and a stew. At last, we headed again to the garden, to capture the blossoms for once. Halfway through the second half we were struck with a thought… we’d forgotten one of our jute sacks of gifts at the inn, so we had to go back. The innkeeper looked at us. “No blossoms then?” We shook our heads, grabbed the forgotten sack, and ran back on the road to the sacred garden. Halfway through the last half, that is, halfway between where we remembered we forgot the sack and the garden itself, we felt weary, and we bought a little wine as pick-me-up for the road, and some figs and dates. The more we walked, the further away it seemed, yet the more strength did the wine seem to give us for the journey ahead.

The sun now is setting.  We finally step over the gates lined with stones and with deities. The blossoms have fallen, like snow in the pond. We finish the last drops of wine and prepare the pilgrimage gifts. But first, we take a look at our reflection in the pure water surface, scattered with petals of white. White, like the hair on our head is now white, and falling like snow to our shoulders.

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Voice-Team
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Voice-Team (@voice-team)
7 months ago

A modern/ancient tale reminding us that every pilgrimage is also a journey into the self. Beautiful images of the cherry blossoms at the conclusion.   

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
7 months ago

Ha, ha, all told as you could imagine, stopping here, forgetting the jute sack (not the result of too much wine, I hope!) more wine, ha, ha, and time to reflect on white hair like petals, how gracious of you! Is this a page from your life?

Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
7 months ago

I was fascinated by this story at first reading, and consecutive readings have made it even more satisfying. There is something ancient in the telling – the wise archer, the temples, the inn keeper, the jute sacks – and yet it could have happened yesterday. The white hair contemplation was a brilliant ending. Great writing!

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Susan Giles
Susan Giles (@susan-giles)
7 months ago

Your prose sings like poetry. I truly enjoyed reading it. Thank you for the story.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
7 months ago

It’s a captivating story, full of enigmatic descriptions and anticipation. It seems to be a part of a longer story, with something more happening before and after this part. Good writing!

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Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti (@dipayan-chakrabarti)
7 months ago

I’m attaracted to the striking descriptions and the subtle old world charm that characterize your story.

Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti (@dipayan-chakrabarti)
7 months ago
Reply to  E. Grigorova

You’re welcome.

Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
7 months ago

It sounded like one of those journeys we’ve all taken, when no matter how much pre-planning is done it doesn’t go quite as smoothly as it should. And yet, the end becomes even more beautiful as a result. Cleverly written. Well done 🙂

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Santina Forlenza
Santina Forlenza (@santina-forlenza)
7 months ago

Congratulations Grigorova!

Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
7 months ago

Congratulations, E. Grigorova! This excellent story was well chosen as a winner.

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
7 months ago

Well done, and congratulation E, Grigorova.

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Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti (@dipayan-chakrabarti)
7 months ago

Congratulations to you, Grigorova.

Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
7 months ago

Congratulations, E. Grigorova! Well done 🙂

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
7 months ago

Congratulations to you, well done.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
7 months ago

Congratulations!  ? 

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
7 months ago

Congratulation, E. Grigorova! Well done!

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Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse (@marianna-pieterse)
7 months ago

Congratulations, E. Grigorova!

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
7 months ago

Congratulations on your win, E. Grigorova. Well done.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
7 months ago
Reply to  E. Grigorova

You’re welcome. Hope to read more from you.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
2 months ago

I am viewing your profile now, E Grigorova. I’m looking to see if you have a new story to read. I can’t wait to read more stories from you.

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