May 8th, 2013

koitsu benkei bridge

The chestnut casts his flambeaux

The chestnut casts his flambeaux, and the flowers
Stream from the hawthorn on the wind away--

On Monday April 29 my plum blossoms were nothing more than green haze. On Monday May 6 I tried to cut a branch for my kitchen but the petals fell the minute the tree was shaken. There wasn't even much of a scent from them in the overly-warm few days that they bloomed. And now the cherries are falling too, drifting down the alleyway.

This first week of May was early-June warm and blue-skied sunny, so not only did the horticultural calendar go into high-speed, it looked all wrong doing it. But today was cool and cloudy, and the colours were finally what early May should be-- grey and green, purple and white-- as they have been since my childhood and were even in Tokyo. (Not exactly like Hasui's print, but kind of.) (You know, that's a posthumous edition from the original blocks, and they still want $315US for it. Wonder what my original original is going for?)

Under these grey skies, the streets of Toronto are yellow with maple flowerets, another seasonal topos that makes one want to rewrite Housman:

Messiest of trees, the maple now
Drops yellow seedlings from each bough
And wingèd seeds, and mould-spot leaves
To clog the gutters, grates and eaves.

Why is this thing our national tree, again?
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