With the first week of April arrived much appreciated sunshine and a break from the windy and rainy weather that has traveled through most of the San Francisco Bay Area. People were out and about in Golden Gate Park and to everyone's delight, especially to this reporter, blossoms were in full bloom.
Blossoms in bloom at the Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park
is a special time because it in spring brings with it a renewal and a hope for many good things in the year that has begun to unfold. The blossoms blooming also refresh this reporter's memory of happier days gone by.
Most San Franciscans, like this reporter, can recall visiting the Tea Gardens in spring - especially in childhood. Walking through the Tea Gardens, at that time was like walking underneath clouds of pink blossoms with the gentle fragrance filling the air.
A climb to the top of the large arched bridge was a challenge that took several attempts to reach triumphantly. When this reporter says several attempts that means over the course of other visits for the phrase, "We don't have all day, you can climb the bridge another time when we visit again," is what my mom would say. And, if I would not comply, my mom would then say, "Alright then, I guess we will have to just leave you here and you will miss out on having tea and cookies."
Tea served in the Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park was a treat and like greeting the great Buddha statue, it was not to be missed. The visit would not be complete. In those days, (subtract some 40 years from 2012) tea was served with what I now know to be called "Arare," which is a serving of little crackers, dried peas
and of course some cookies. My favorite was the seemingly perfectly shaped almond cookies. Oh, what a delight that was with the taste of either jasmine tea or green tea.
The tea garden experience was like visiting a special place during childhood and experiencing something out of the ordinary. I learned much later that the garden was founded for the California Mid-Winter Exposition of 1894 and was attended to by the Hagiwara family,
until World War II.
The blossoms also represent a celebration of not only spring but of an ancient culture and heritage that is rich with meaning.
Each year in San Francisco's Japan Center, a celebration of the Cherry Blossom Festival takes place.
"Blossoms bloom only once a year and only last for about a month," said Rick Cunningham, gardening manager at Cole Hardware in San Francisco's Cole Valley neighborhood
not far from The Sunset District where Golden Gate Park is situated. "The most common are cherry, apple, citrus and almond. And, usually a blossom signifies that a tree will bear fruit," he said. "Yet, there are some that do not and there are thousands of varieties of blossom trees," said Cunningham.
For some places like Japan, the appearance of the blossom is a cause for celebration and reflection.
It is this meaning and significance that makes the annual Cherry Blossom Festival
here in San Francisco. And, how uniquely fortunate San Francisco is to have such a celebration and festival made possible by the efforts of so many people, especially those early pioneers like the Hagiwara family