Tag Archives: Branch Brook

My own personal cherry tree

may not be the biggest or the buffest, but it is the best because I see it outside my office window every day.

It grows outside the municipal building in our village. I’ve been looking forward to the moment it blooms.

The cherry trees are not the only ones to boast the perfection of spring – window box planters down the street are filled with blooms so perfect they look like they’re not even real.

Why is it that trees that weep make us happy? Weeping willows, weeping beeches. I know that it is the pendulant cherry trees which I like the best.

In Branch Brook Park, in Newark, New Jersey, 5,200 white and pink trees burst into bloom at approximately the same time in April. That’s more than they have in D.C., and quite a bit closer to home, so we thought we’d go for a look. First, fortify with a “belly buster” hot dog from JJ’s food truck, the finest New Jersey has to offer in that department.

Clouds of blossoms appear everywhere you look. The park received its first cherry trees, called sakura in Japan, as a gift in 1927.

Branch Brook is an urban park. Roads cut through it, creating an interesting counterpoint between the natural, graceful trees and the hard-edged automotive energy. Reminds me of Central Park in Manhattan, probably because the hills and dales and automotive conduits were designed by Olmsted Brothers, the successors to Frederick Law Olmsted, the genius behind Central Park’s greenscapes.

Picnics under every tree. The Japanese call the practice of imbibing under a blooming sakura hanam, and the tradition goes back centuries, to the Heian period (794–1185).

Part of the modern tradition, posing for pictures.

Quilts of dandelions dot the lawns.

If you look closely, what I consider perhaps the cherry tree’s best feature: Its lenticel-scored bark. That’s how it breathes.

Cherry trees are not universally cherished.

I knew that protesters had chained themselves to cherry trees in a park on the lower east side, on Manhattan’s East River, so I went to have a look. NYC is shoring up the edge of the island to make it more flood-resistant, to the tune of $1.4 billion, and the sakuras, among others, would have to go. This conflict has to do with what needs to be taken away to achieve the city’s goal. Protesters are having none of it.

Taking the footbridge over the FDR to Corlears Hook Park,  I saw the classic sneakers hung over a wire –a practice whose meaning has been disputed. Gang activity, loss of virginity, mere hijinks?

In this case, it did not indicate anything positive. Everything had been bulldozed, everything was gone.

Early Saturday morning, a pair of protesters were charged with criminal trespass and obstructing governmental administration. The city plans to cut down 1,000 trees for the project. The irony of cutting down trees to fight climate change was not lost on protesters. It’s a tough call, certainly.

Back home, my own personal tree, the weeping sakura, though small, stood tall.

I felt fortunate that it wasn’t going anyplace anytime soon.

1 Comment

Filed under Jean Zimmerman