There, One Cherry Tree
Look, she’d pointed and began to jump so as to see better. Do you see? There is one there! She said, shaking his arm.
At first he wasn’t sure what she was pointing at, tired as he’d been all day, after staying up for a last minute project before his manager got on a flight to Australia and driving here so early in the morning. But then he saw, that massive cloud of pink and white by the lake.
The cherry blossoms hadn’t been what they’d hoped for at all. Most of the park was still barren – less sought-after blooms were not yet evident, let alone the cherry trees. It was a winter that refused to be warmed up and pushed aside. After walking through the park, they’d finally spotted this one cherry tree on the bank of the lake. It was hard to say why it’d blossomed all by itself, by the lake no less where the wind was harsh, but the tree looked bigger and stronger than the rest.
Its roots went deeper underground, he’d said, and taken her hand. It’s seen way more than this frigid spring they were having. They walked toward it hand in hand, toward that cloud of pink, both cheered by their discovery and the relief that they hadn’t driven all this way for nothing. Their day wouldn’t be wasted.
As they got closer, they saw that the base of the tree was covered in people. People who’d driven hours here and surprised at the lack of life in the park, just as they were. Everyone had hoped for a sign of better things, it seemed, and came on a whim of enthusiasm.
She took pictures while they were still further away, just of the blooms against the grey sky, but eventually they made their way to the lake. The throng of people had gotten bigger. They walked around it, admiring this tenacious, brave creature. He was right, the tree had one of those knotty, ancient roots. For a moment, she pictured its roots spread all around underneath them, for miles on end, supporting the flowers above that really didn’t have to do much, so frail they really couldn’t have done much. Still they were what everyone saw.
The ground beneath the tree, under people’s feet now, was covered in a thick layer of pink petals. The wind had been merciless after all, it seemed, and while the trunk withstood it, the delicate flowers weren’t built to last.
Near the back of the tree, they’d finally found an opening in the crowd, and he took a picture of her amid the flowers. Her long dark hair bathed in a shower of petals and flew along with them in the wind. After, she traced her fingers over the flowers, and said to him, see, these flowers are all missing some of their petals.
It’s alright, isn’t it? He said, the tree appeared beautiful from the distance.
I guess so, she said. They asked someone to take a photo for them posing under the tree. From just a little further please, they gestured to the photographer, we’d like to capture the whole tree.
In the picture, they were small.
What now, they wondered aloud in unison. The day was still early, for the walk around the park, devoid of points of interests, hadn’t taken very long.
Suppose we go to the hotel to freshen up, then explore the areas? He suggested. They’d found a tiny motel nearby. The plan was to spend all afternoon here, then stay overnight at the motel. It sounded perfect then.
Sure, she said. They got into the car, having seen the one cherry tree with its blossoms. It was still a beautiful sight to behold, they’d agreed. Their day was salvaged by it, thankfully.
Let’s drive home instead, she said all of a sudden when he pulled onto the highway, and turned to look at him. Let’s not go to the hotel. He looked over and saw that her eyes were bright.
What’s the matter? He asked.
Nothing, she said, I’d just rather go back now.
Instead of dropping off onto local roads in ten exits as they’d planned to, he merged onto the main lanes of the highway.
more by SOPHIE X. SONG
photograph by Craig Cloutier