The park has been quiet lately. Regular visitors to the small coffee shop in the corner of the park have been hesitant to go out in public since the pandemic started a year earlier. Life slowed down. Each venture outside was deliberate.

Olivia and Akina sipped their coffees slowly, taking in the surroundings, appreciating the view and tranquility. The fresh smell of spring was palpable. A cricket chirped cheerfully in the nearby flower bed.

The bittersweet feeling of nostalgia took hold of Olivia’s thoughts. Remembering her Mom’s last days and the privilege she had to greet her before she passed away stayed with her since that dreadful morning. Her mind was a rollercoaster of longing and loss combined with beautiful memories of days gone past and hope for what lies ahead.

“Isn’t its beauty simply breath-taking?” asked Olivia, willfully changing her train of thought. “It is wonderful that the restrictions have been lifted and we can meet like this again,” she sighed.

“I’m with you there,” smiled Akina. “Few things can compare to the beauty of these trees.”

“It must have been a sad day for a person in the early 1900’s, witnessing the cherry blossom trees being burnt,” said Olivia. “Thinking their beauty would no longer adorn the lanes of Washington D.C.”

“It had to be done. The devastation caused by the insects left them no choice,” Akina replied. “I’m grateful for the beautiful gift of friendship Mayor Ozaki gave D.C. a few years later. Such hope these blossoms give to humanity!”

“Word has it that the trees in Japan started blossoming earlier this year! This is the earliest ever!” Olivia smiled. “It is a miracle, after the year the world has seen. It brings a message of hope of a better tomorrow, for sure!”

“You know what the early blossoming means, don’t you?” asked Akina with a glint in her eyes.

Olivia laughed at her friend’s antics. “Yes, of course! The Hanami festival ought to start early this year! I cannot wait!”

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    Maryke de Witt
    Maryke de Witt(@maryke-de-witt)
    2 years ago

    What a warm story! I felt like I was sitting there with them, just taking in the pleasant spring air. Well done, so beautifully written!!!

    Dipayan Chakrabarti
    Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
    2 years ago

    Your story is a fine blend of both reality and fantasy. Brilliant job, Marianna!

    Dipayan Chakrabarti
    Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
    Reply to  Marianna Pieterse
    2 years ago

    You’re welcome.

    Carrie OLeary
    Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
    2 years ago

    Lovely story. I like that you incorporated the history of the cherry trees in America into the conversation. As a sign of friendship, it makes you wonder where everything went wrong.

    Linda Rock
    Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
    2 years ago

    I loved the opening paragraph in the park Marianna, and the little coffee shop. It reminded me of a park near where I once worked and spent many a lunchtime. Also how your characters’ conversation was able to highlight the history of the cherry trees. That was very nicely done. A really enjoyable read.

    Genya Johnson
    Genya Johnson(@genya-johnson)
    2 years ago

    There is magic and mystery around cherry blossom. You captured a beautiful piece of paradise as the friends took in the beautiful spring day. A lovely piece of writing.

    Greene M Wills
    Greene M Wills(@greene-m-wills)
    2 years ago

    So lovely and understated, Marianna, I love it! ? 

    Sandra James
    Sandra James(@sandra-james)
    2 years ago

    I really enjoyed your heartwarming story, Marianna, and learnt something new. Of course, I had to google the wonderful history of the cherry trees in Washington DC! You’ve shown me a piece of history through the eyes of two friends. Wonderful!

    Christer Norrlof
    Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
    2 years ago

    I like the way you use change and optimism as a theme throughout the story. The dark past is gone and things are getting better. Cherry blossoms are the visible symbol for a bright future. Good work, Marianna.

    Eric Radcliffe
    Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
    2 years ago

    I liked to read your story as Christer did, full of optimism, the trees are blossoming earlier this year – is nature showing us the meaning of optimism? A lovely story Marianna.

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

    That was brilliant, Marianna. I love reading your story, it is full of positivity and optimism.

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