When Springtime was Roses
Omi is singing “Lasst Blumen Sprechen.”
I don’t know what it means, only that she sings it when the sun comes out and the sky is bright blue.
I ask if I can go swimming, if we can set the pool up, put the sprinkler on, but Omi says no, not yet, I’ll catch a cold.
It’s only 20 degrees, but it seems like it should be warmer.
She shows me her bright yellow daffodils, heads drooping as they stand soldier-like in the flowerbed next to the neighbour’s fence. The bees buzz as they go from stamen to stamen, collecting powdery pollen to bring back to their common home.
Omi is still singing as she strolls along the fence, towards the damp, dark corner where the magnolia tree waits with its giant white petals, like giant, white roses.
She tells me they were her wedding flowers. Nineteen years old, a borrowed dress and a bouquet of magnolias, the sounds of war just barely silent.
It’s too cold for me to stay in this corner.
In the middle of the yard, soaked in sunshine the raised concrete flowerbeds are a rainbow of colour. Petunias, carnations and some others that look like very round roses. I stuff my nose into one, sniffing deeply. It has no scent.
Omi takes her scissors from the kitchen drawer, gripping their big black heavy handle as she wanders back out through the garden. She stops at the twin rose bushes in front of the garage; the first hot pink, and the other a shade of red so dark it is almost black. I listen to the short, high screech as she snips at the stems, careful not to prick herself on the thorns.
She places her crudely formed bouquet carefully in a crystal vase filled with water from the kitchen tap. Sets it in the middle of the dining room table, in place of the container of dusty plastic roses that usually sits there.
When I look around, Omi has gone back outside to marvel once more at the blue, blue sky.
A single red rose petal drifts slowly onto the tablecloth, unnoticed by anyone but me.
When Springtime became Cherry Blossoms
The streets are pink and white, soft like a doll’s dress. The trees stand and wait for us expectantly, lined in deliberate rows, their branches stretching wide.
A stream of sunshine sweeps through the clouds, caressing the trees’ extensions like the curtain on opening night.
The cherry blossoms are out. They are the reason we are here, the reason why the streets are bursting with people, their phones and cameras. We have been checking the online sakura report feverishly for months, just to find out when they’ll be in bloom, which days they’ll be at their peak. When they’ll appear their most beautiful.
We wander oblivious along the frilly avenue, selfie sticks and I-phones glued to fingers and palms. We smiling broadly at our reflections, a perfume-less cloud cloaking our shoulders. Stoop manically beneath weeping canopies, just to peek through a bridal veil made of blossoms while dutiful boyfriends strain to take the perfect shot.
A time, a season when it’s just us and the sakura whispering on the breeze around every corner. Where everything is sakura flavoured; the Kit-Kit bars, the Coke bottles sold from vending machines, their pink and lilac labels promising us something different. Even the overpriced sparkling wine sold in plastic champagne flutes for tourists to sip in the chilly sunshine. Sakura tea, sakura hand cream, body cream, cocktails and cupcakes.
We buy all of it.
We don’t even realize that the blossoms have no scent. And without scent, there is nothing to taste.
But what does it matter? It’s Spring.