Cherry Blossoms

Caitryn Tronoski, Poetry Editor

At the end of spring last year, I was looking for a way to clear my mind and start relying on myself a little more. I had just lost all of my school friends, and the pandemic had canceled my theatre program for the season. I was in desperate need of something to do for the summer.

I remembered how good it felt to go walking outside. I used to do it so often, but as high school had gone on, I had stopped. I missed jamming out to music in the middle of the street, looking at the sunset and smelling the summer breeze. It was the end of March when I first put my shoes on and went for a walk.

At first it was really short- just to the mailbox and back. March was still cold, and I didn’t feel like freezing out there. I only went outside of my house about once a week, for that walk. Gradually, it got longer, but I would never go farther than a quarter of a mile. I did stick to it, though, and one day at the end of April, I found it was pretty warm out. I went out in a sweatshirt and some shorts and decided to explore the landscape of the streets around me. I don’t live in a traditional suburb- we have woods all around us, and our roads crisscross in so many strange ways.

I stopped at a stop sign, turned left, and continued that way, walking along the shoulder, which was filled with little pebbles and stones. I turned right, into a mile-long loop around a different neighborhood. Things were pretty quiet, save the occasional jogger. I had my music, and every so often I ran out to dance in the street.

As I neared the end of that loop, I saw a tree that had been planted in a strange place; right up against the sidewalk, in a lawn which otherwise had no trees, bushes or flowers to be seen. The tree cast a little bit of shade onto the sidewalk, because it had just begun to get some leaves back. Little buds were sprouting from the branches. I crossed the street just to get a look at it, and when I neared the tree I smelled cherry blossoms.

I used to have a cherry tree in my backyard. That smell took me back to when I was younger, and I would climb the tree in the spring to see if I could shake the branch hard enough to make it rain flower petals. I would water the tree with my little watering can, even though it didn’t need any water, and I would read her stories. Years ago, we had to remove the tree, and in a way it had signified the end of childhood for me. I hadn’t smelled cherry blossoms since.

I reached out and put my hand on the rough bark. I stayed a minute, then finished the loop and walked home. On my way back, I couldn’t stop thinking about that one tree, sticking out like a sore thumb in an otherwise boring, flat lawn.

The next day, I came back. And then the next. Before long, it became a daily routine. I watched the tree bloom into cherry blossoms in the spring. Every time I came to it, I would breathe in a deep whiff of those cherry blossoms, and smile.

As the summer went on and turned into fall, my walks grew from just that one loop to the entire surrounding area. I would walk up to nine miles every morning, but I would always stop to take a break when I saw that tree. When the fall came, it began to lose leaves and I no longer smelled the unique scent of the cherry tree. But I was still reminded of my childhood. All that I had lost came back to me.

Now, I haven’t seen that tree in three months, since the temperature dropped and I began to run indoors. I still think about it every day, and can’t until I’ll be able to smell cherry blossoms again.