Thirty two

So you think you know the Japanese cherry tree. Its smooth, greyish, glossy bark with horizontal cut lenticels carries such a shiny, silver-like quality, that your hand could not resist touching. What you saw today confused and stunned you–a cherry tree that looked utterly rugged, its trunk crooked, bent, and cracked open, its bark clad in deep fissures and crevices. It looks ancient. In truth, you have never seen a cherry tree sixty years old. Today, you saw some of them, planted on the idyllic hillside near the pond, and you were surprised and embarrassed by your own ignorance that trees could grow old in your lifetime, even though, in front of the mirror, you scrutinize that face every day. Cherry trees only live thirty or forty years. The park staff care about their trees and flowers. By carefully pruning of dead limbs of the cherry trees, they give them a second life, generating more amazing and fascinating shapes in the original old trees. Every Spring, around late April, people gather to celebrate Sakura Hanami. An old tree can be that beautiful! When in full bloom, it stages itself as a large canopy bursting with thousands of delicate white and pink flowers. Everyone wants a picture with the majestic tree. Let’s go and look at Sakura blossoming, he said. Straying down the wrong path, you ended up at Dog Hill, where happy, unleashed dogs meet up and socialize every day, busily chasing and fighting each other. A good woman showed you the way, her fingers pointed back to the west, the direction you had just come from. You could feel the swelling in your left knee as you limped towards the hill, where a thousand cherry blossoms were in bloom.
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