Cherry Blossoms & Goose Bumps

11 April 2022 – Vancouver is in the grips of its annual three-week Cherry Blossom Festival. It is all the more magical because, after several years on hold, we are again able to hold public events to mark the phenomenon.

It’s a phenomenon worth marking. The whole city is fluffy with blossoms, and no wonder: 54 different cultivars, and more than 43,000 trees in total. I can spout these factoids because of the Festival website, with its historical backstory (first festival, 2006) and its list of events (from the kick-off Big Picnic, to the international Haiku Invitational contest, the Tree Talks and Walks, and the Sakura Days weekend at the VanDusen Botanical Garden). Plus its mammoth DIY resource, Discover Blossoms. Here you can learn a very great deal about cherry trees and the significance of cherry blossom festivals, pinpoint what is blooming where, right here, right now, and download your very own Cherry Compass app.

Unfortunately, the city is not only in the grips of cherry blossoms, it is also in the grips of a prolonged cold snap. We therefore head for the VanDusen on Sunday bundled up in more layers of clothing that we think ought to be necessary, this time of year.

Mother Nature, of course, doesn’t care. The blossoms dance merrily in the breeze …

though some of the Haiku contest entries, like this one, allude to the tricks that weather can play.

We will head downhill a bit later on for one of the outdoor cultural performances — but first, we really, really want to warm up.

So we cruise the line of food trucks, each with its own offering of Japanese street food. How about Teriyaki Boys (their trucks a fixture in Squamish, Whistler and Metro Vancouver)?

Perhaps… But first we’ll explore a little more, on down the line.

Aha! Perfect comfort food for a bone-biting day: okonomiyaki, or cabbage pancake. We join the line-up and gossip with the people just ahead of us, who widen their eyes as they describe the length of the Japadog line-up a little earlier in the day. I am nostalgic: back in 2018, new to Vancouver, I was introduced to the iconic Japadog menu at this very event. Today, though, temperatures are low and wind is high and we want to wrap ourselves around those pancakes.

So we do.

Fortified, we head down to the open-air stage, in time for the performers we want to see, the Southern Wave Okinawan Music and Dance Society. There are a few rows of chairs, and we manage to snaffle two seats. We watch as the musicians and this stately dancer (captured by my friend’s quick eye and superior camera) celebrate the arrival of spring.

We celebrate right along with them. For a while.

Then we leave, drive back north, and celebrate Flat Whites and delicate Financier almond cakes in the warmth of my favourite neighbourhood café.

  • WALKING… & SEEING

    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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