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!”