Love, Spring

Balboa Park Cherry Blossom Festival

Over the past few gloomy months, Southern Californians’ chatter has consisted primarily of expressions of shock at the weather.

“Can you believe this rain?!”

Yet the wrath of even the deepest despiser of stormy weather is sure to quickly dissipate after seeing the absolutely divine result of this lengthy torrent. Spring has dawned upon San Diego, and with it the earth has come alive.

Every March for the last 18 years, the Japanese Friendship Garden tucked away in the heart of Balboa Park has celebrated the bewitching transformation of its alcove of 200 cherry trees. This year, the garden’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival fell on March 10-12, though the trees continue to bloom through April.

Visiting the garden during the festival is an animated experience. After being stamped with an endearing cartoon cat, one is herded into the action. From karate demonstrations to kimono dressings, and a bounty of good eats like fresh, steaming red-bean Taiyaki and compactly wrapped Onigiri pockets of goodness, one almost overlooks the main attraction — the cherry trees.

Though the festival is a one-of-a-kind adventure, the garden is enjoyed best on a casual weekday morning — away from the crowds. In the peace and calm of misty silence, one can truly cherish its spell-binding aura.

As you step into the grove, the thick scent of honeysuckle weighing heavy in the air lulls you into a sort of hypnotic trance. Your heart feels light, like a spritely fairy floating through the paths. Yet you also get the sense that you have never been so grounded and connected to

the earth beneath you, as if your heels have deep roots running into the damp, soft soil. Continuing down the trail, shadows of the dancing branches lilt upon the ground and little patches of sunlight softly kiss your cheek. The world around you is teeming with nature’s sweet melody — the murmurings of a small brook, buzzing of bees and twittering of birds above.

The trees themselves blush pink, as if they have just exchanged glances with their beloved. For a moment, one forgets that it is March and not the midst of a winter wonderland; the blossoms’ floating petals could be easily mistaken for delicate snowflakes wafting with the breeze and coating every bush, bench and passerby in a blanket of perfume. Even hours after you leave, stray petals in your hair and clothes serve as reminders of your precious sojourn at the garden.

Though the cherry blossoms steal the spotlight, their flower friends are just as lovely. Garlands of purple wisteria drip from the gazebo awning like hanging bracelets of amethysts. Quaint periwinkles pop out from behind vines and poised camellias dot bushes.

Visit post-drizzle and you will have the honor of seeing all of the garden’s florals and grasses bejeweled in glistening beads of water.

If you are frequenting for the festival or just for a solitary stroll, the Japanese Friendship Garden is a slice of wonder for all those smitten with spring. To visit is to live the prose of a Pablo Neruda poem.

“I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.”

Carlsbad Flower Fields

Spring is finally upon us; the sun has come out from hiding, and the flowers are blooming at last.

Although San Diego has had a rainy few weeks, the weather has worked in its favor and nourished beautiful flowers that are now in sight wherever you go.

The Carlsbad Flower Fields is an attraction that has been open for over 60 years; every year, it opens March 1 and lasts until Mother’s Day. This popular place is available to anyone and everyone, for those of all ages.

As you walk through the entrance labeled “Carlsbad Flower Fields” above you, there are a few highlights before the main attraction. There are stands consisting of food and drinks, and even a stage with live music. One of the best places to make a pit stop is a literal lemon-shaped lemonade stand. The lemonade provides a perfectly balanced, bittersweet iced drink to refresh you on a warm day walking through the sun-covered fields.

As soon as you make it past the stands, you approach the stunning sight you came to see. You hear the gasps from people walking in, the laughter of children, and of course, the clicks of cameras as countless photos are being taken.

A tractor passes by, filled with people who want quicker transportation to every inch of the land, because seeing the whole place on foot would take a whole day.

As you continue through the rows, you can smell the sweet scent of honey from the flowers and watch them dance in the wind as a breeze passes. Each type of flower is so precisely placed aesthetically pleasing to the eye and drawing you to the next row.

Even those who are not usually fond of flowers have found the Flower Fields to be a magical place. You can spend as much or as little time in this area and get an enlightening experience regardless.

The field is so massive that you can find peace and quiet in any separate area away from the chaos and, take in earth’s wonderful creation.

When you decide it is time to end your journey of seeing the wonders the flower fields had to offer,
you continue to the exit and walk away with a core memory, hoping to relive the experience next year.

Whether you are a tourist or a local, this experience should definitely be on your bucket list item. The flower fields have thrived for decades, announcing the arrival of spring and the beautiful aspects of nature that this season produces.

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