Friday, 24 April 2015

Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom at Grange Loan - April 2015
Fantasy Bob's practice session was going well. As he paused at the end of his run up, a visitor leisurely perambulating the Grange Loan home of the go ahead Edinburgh cricket club Carlton remarked to his companion.
'It is always one of the most inspiring sights at this time of year.'
FB puffed out his chest. He had heard his run up the wicket described in many ways. Shambling, faltering, comical? Frequently. But inspiring? Not so often. In fact, never.
Had this observant visitor finally seen the lithe athleticism to which others had been blind? Surely FB was at last gaining the reward for his many gym sessions over the winter?
The response from the eloquent visitor's companion brought him down to earth with a crash.

'Yes, those cherry trees are beautiful.'

FB overcame his disappointment with a rasping inswinger that gave the 11 year old at the other end of the net something to think about. Having thought, he blasted the ball back over FB's head.

As FB trudged off in pursuit of the ball he had time to reflect on the visitors' conversation - for the splendour of the early season cherry blossom is indeed one of the delights of Grange Loan. (Not, admittedly, if the bowler's arm is coming directly out of it....but in all other circumstances, definitely),

FB reflected on whether there was any reason why his beloved cricket ground should be so beautified by these blossoms.
For while, to the prosaic Westerner the meaning of Cherry Blossom may not get beyond the leading brand of boot polish (or shoe care products as they are now known), to the Easterner, the Japanese in particular, the cherry blossom is deeply symbolic. 
The blossom, which appears and then all too quickly and sadly disappears, is an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life and is closely associated with the mono no aware cultural tradition. This term translates literally as "the pathos of things", and is used to refer to the awareness of impermanence and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life.
During and prior to World War II, the cherry blossom was used to motivate the Japanese people and there were many military associations - for example Japanese pilots would paint them on the sides of their planes or even take branches of the trees with them before embarking on a suicide mission. The first kamikaze unit had a subunit called Yamazakura or wild cherry blossom

Cherry blossom symbolizing the intensity and ephemerality of life?
'Surely', thought FB to himself, 'this is going over the top as far as symbolism goes.'
When he strides out to bat, FB needs no further reminders of impermanence.  
All he has to do is look at the 10 year old spin bowler at the other end.  The glint in his eye, the way his fingers wrap themselves round the ball.  It is all the mono no aware FB needs.


  1. During the Hanami, or Cherry Blossom Festival, thousands of Japanese travel great distances to find the best views of the flowering trees. A similar tradition could be established here in Scotland - hordes of natives descending on the Grange to see the Sakura illustrated and, as a special bonus, witness the famous FB arm turning over.

    1. Yes it is surprising that no enterprising tour company has organised such events.

  2. The wonderful annual pink snow of nearly-Grange West Savile Terrace - I remember it well...