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What’s so special about the cherry blossom?
Author:Raju Maskey  Date:2018-05-10  Clicks:

From the star-crossed love story of Juliet and her Romeo comes a line

What's in a name? That which we call a rose.

By any other name would smell as sweet.

It highlights that the inherent nature of things always stays the same. In this instance, Juliet Capulet requests Romeo Montague to give up his name, for it is the person, Romeo, that she loves. Similarly, the cherry blossom, an appellative for romance and an ode to the fabric of life--as many surrealist alumni artists have established, touches an aura of love. The same goes for WHU’s sui generis cherry season. Though it is a mecca to all the nature-loving tourists most of the time, its inherent nature of spurring romance is what matters the most.

Cherry bloom—a season of romance in WHU

Every renewal of spring leads way to this ennobling endeavor of venerating nature that resonates with ever bold and stunning romantic alchemy. Every arrival of this season infuses the air with romance, without fail; however, everyone is courting in essence a different kind of romance, as each pair professes their delight for having found each other in their own unique ways. That is to say, the picture each of us paints of romance is not the same. We have come a long way from epistolary romances but the most primal recognitions of love have remained unchanged. It is recognized as an intractable matrix of feelings, identities, ideologies—transcultural and trans historical—and this human mixture of feelings has usurped the idea of fairytale romance. Our proclivities and preconceived notion of romance are slowly changing. This applies to all the lovers, young or old, simple-minded or mature.

From a humanistic perspective, it may look like a romantic heresy or simply apostasy of an outdated view of romance; as a matter of fact, we articulate a different sense of what romance is. We ponder the dizzying intersections of our own nature. Maybe we don’t understand romance any better during this bloom, but this grand floral display touches our deepest emotions. Cherry blossom cannot make lovers out of us, it can merely refresh the memory of our first date giving us butterflies.

Tellingly, it’s an almost-too-good-to-be-true harbinger of a warm spring, bona fide proof that nature has bestowed this famed campus with a prized gift that in itself is an ecological microcosm of an arboretum in full bloom. It’s panacea to the most battered, hard-boiled and unloved hearts and at the sight of this idyllicblossom, their lips curl up a smile.

Romance, in this context, isn’t associated to risqué pleasures and desires; there’s a shift in baseline, and it’sabout not missing out on the minutiae of life moments and cherishing the company of each other. As alumni return to witness the blooming, taking a break from their taxing jobs, it lends a romantic redux of their youthful time here. Those were some truly wonderful days. Even so, there is some effervescent timeless charm that had infallibly won their hearts and remains fresh in their mind. They are charged by a healthy dose of nostalgia and reminiscence, as they are assailed by the memories of their old friends during schooldays in a journey back in time, before they revert back to their jobs.

The students here have toiled and waited for one long year to merit the gift of cherry blossom-something wholly deserved. But oddly enough, the students turn out to be outnumbered by waves of visitors washing up the lanes and jam-packing the cobblestoned boulevards. They gape at the breath-taking view of cherry blossom mirrored on the calm surface of the pond, unaware of the plenary diegesis of WHU. Sometimes it matters, often not.

Equipoise lines of trees serve as a natural porte cochere for gaggles of visitors, purchasing de rigueur WHU souvenirs. It’s endearing to see old couples doting on their better halves, having a bit of a heart-to-heart, grateful for their time together—something they had wished for in a scattershot manner. The young couples, in their à la mode clothing, are the polar opposites, running pell-mell on the green mulch of flowerbeds. Most great romances start out this way.

The fluttering and swaying of the cherry petals,with every whoosh of air, istongue in cheek referred to as the “cherry fall”. Coherently patterned wayside flowers and the intoxicating sense of beauty they evoke resonates an illusory nexus between reality and dream. Turning to the romantic side of this season, we realize the prism of our own romantic worldview is emitting a different spectrum of emotions. Not to sugarcoat the beauty of it in metaphors, it simply ascribes meaning to and institutes the existence of romance.

A touching life story behind the cherry blossom

There are stories of the past and the distant past, some of which, thankfully, haven’t passed for village gossip and withered into oblivion. One such story is about WHU-educated Tang Shanghao and his Japanese wife Suzuki, which otherwise would have been a love story with a happy ending, if not for the ominous war that brought misery and despair to the couple and thousands of residents of Wuhan. Their resistance seemed futile, even tragic, but it was her unrelenting devotion—an apt synecdoche which could be simply described as pure love—that helped them survive those desperate times. She even risked her life and came to his rescue when he and his colleagues were arrested by the Japanese while guarding the school. Sadly, she died in the year the cherry trees blossomed for the first time on campus—the first of many. The story might seem fictitious for someone who is a stickler for details due to lack of pernickety evidence, but it strikes a chord with WHUers who have come to hear of many other orally passed-on folklores purporting romantic tragedy. Upon reflection, all this historical distress thereby might serve the grand purpose of reminding us to relish and value life and togetherness even more.


Tang Shanghao and Suzuki with their children

Cherry blossom in WHUers’ eye

WHU is very a clear choice to prospective students, but somehow, at the back of their heads there is a reeling excitement of spending four romantic seasons of cherry blossom in the most beautiful campus in China—an exorbitant privilege. What we love about cherry season in WHU is that it’s never boring or even one-noted. It is every bit new and special to upperclassmen as it is to freshmen. Everyone is delighted and genuinely humbled by the richness in colors-which is intricately connected with spring and hence with cherry season.

Even the nondescript squares they had passed countless times on their way to class, but slipped out of notice, look as spectacular as some mystical creature that has suddenly sprung to life. A quick once-over is stretched to a glare. They come to know of the closeness they share with nature and loved ones. Growing up with friends they know best, adapting and tuning in to the changes in seasons and spending inordinate amounts of time excelling, they now come out of their insular domesticated little worlds, nixtheir routine and of their own volition, allow themselves a quiet stroll in the elysian existence of blooming cherries.The bubble they had been living in has popped. It’s rite of passage for hundreds of students gathering under the star-studded night sky as if they had showed up to some clandestine soiree, celebrating the impermanence of this season and their college life.

The awe-inspiring vistas get their creative juices flowing to hone their artistry in ragtime compositions and inspire their best works.They marvel at this sense of unalloyed pleasure; they simply cannot elide the appreciation of cherry blossom. After all, it’s an integral part of student life in WHU. The first impression of the blossoming cherry trees is what will stick with them the longest, tucked in the safest corners of their memory.

Cherry season is the best of everything there is, and comes to an end with the subtlety of a dying ember. It is just a contrived ending to a beautiful season of cherries. To cue what the next cherry season would look like, here is another line said by Juliet to her beloved Romeo.

Our love, which right now is like a flower bud in the summer air, may turn out to be a beautiful flower by the next time we meet. I hope you enjoy the same sweet peace and rest I feel in my heart.


(Edited by: Xu Yumeng, Wang Wei, Edmund Wai Man Lai, Liu Jiachen and Liu Xiaoli)


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