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Cherry Blossom Time

The blossoms are peaking in D.C. today. Yet the normally joyous moment has been thwarted by the ongoing pandemic (for those not in D.C., access to the Tidal Basin where the famous cherry trees are planted has been curtailed, for good reason).

Nevertheless, we can think back to the beauty and joy of cherry blossoms past, whether directly from cherished memories or with help from historic images. Incidentally, this 1930s linen cherry blossoms postcard was the very first vintage postcard I ever bought. Even today, with 10s of 1,000s of additional cards in my collection, I still prize the deco-styling and vivid coloration of this superb Curteich design.

Most know that the famous cherry trees ringing the D.C. Tidal Basin were gifted to the city by Japan in the 1910s, as indicated by this 1920s postcard which depicts, "a bit of old Japan transplanted to Potomac Park - the Misses Sumi and Sadi Tamura, daughters of...former Third Secretary of the Japanese Embassy, out for an early morning stroll."

What fewer know (including myself until recently) is that an original 1909 gift of trees was burned upon arrival after USDA inspection revealed that the trees were infected with a number of invasive pests, including nematodes! An additional three trees were cut down by an anonymous vigilante four days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Thankfully, despite these early set-backs, the visionary gift has endured and bestows its ephemeral beauty to residents and visitors year after year. Here's hoping that next years blossoms greet a world of health and peace.

Photo credit: Andrew Riely, 2015

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