Monday, April 10, 2017

University of Washington Cherry Blossoms: The Quad in Bloom

I've always been very sensitive to my surroundings, so it wasn't out of character that I chose to attend the University of Washington. A beautiful campus is not a good reason to pick a college, but there you have it. It played into my decision.

For starters, there's that burst of cherry blossoms that rim the Quad each spring in an exquisite cloud of pale pink.

When I was a student there, I looked forward to cherry blossom time each spring. But I didn't think about taking pictures of them (it was the pre-smartphone era)

In the years since, it has become a Seattle thing, with hundreds of non-students crowding the Quad to see and shoot them at their peak. They even have their own Twitter account now (@uwcherryblossoms).

So last Friday I stopped by the campus on a rainy morning right before a windstorm that would blow down most of the remaining blossoms, already past their peak.

We arrived right after 8:30 classes started, so the Quad was pretty empty. Puddles were scattered around the wet brick walkways. With each gust of wind, delicate pink petals floated to the ground beneath the trees like spring snow.

These Yoshino cherry trees came from Japan, and many are quite elderly for such trees. They were originally planted in the 1930s at the nearby Washington Park Arboretum and moved to the Quad in the 1960s

“The cherry blossom represents the fertility and beauty of life,” said recently retired UW Professor Tetsuden Kashima in 2014. “In [Japan], the blossoms are a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful, but it is also tragically short. When the cherry blossoms bloom for a short time each year in force, they serve as a visual reminder of how precious and precarious life is.”

I'm sure the thousands of students and sightseers dashing around on campus are hardly thinking such poignant and weighty thoughts. But in a Japanese art history class at UW (coincidentally, on the Quad), I was introduced to this concept, which the Japanese call mono no aware.

And as the years go by, this concept does resonate with me more. So it was especially sweet to visit these old friends, gnarled and aging, perhaps even more beautiful than in their youth.

As my girlfriends and I, long past our university days, walked past the trees, a student noticed me taking shots with a big camera in hand and came over.

"I'm about to graduate and have never taken a picture of these trees. Can you take some shots of me with them?"

I was happy to oblige.  


How about you? Have you been to see the cherry blossoms on the Quad, or somewhere else?  Jump in with a comment below and make my day. :)
Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons! In between blog posts, visit Pacific NW Seasons on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram for more Northwest photos and outdoors news.   

When You Go

While the Quad is lovely any time of year, the blossoms are mosty spent for 2017. It's still worth a trip, though, to see the tail end of the blossoms.  Click here for a live streaming view of the Quad (and indeed there are still some blossoms left on the trees as of today). Here is a link on how to get to the UW Seattle campus, which has a link to over 60 bus routes to campus.


Anne said...

I started in '66 and they were there then, so must have been transplanted in the early '60s. They are much more lush now that they have matured, I have not seen them in person for years while in bloom so thanks for this peek! UW has been lauded recently in several "rankings" as one of the best universities in the US and even in the world, and its nice to know that the campus is right up there too, between the Quad, Rainier Vista, the lakefront athletic facilities, the venerable old brick buildings, historic Denny Hall....and the columns that were moved from the original downtown Seattle site which our great grandmother attended when this "new" campus was built well over 100 years ago.

Anonymous said...

So beautiful. The trees look bigger and more venerable than I remember. I guess they've done some growing in the last 35 years!
Kathy O.

Judy Gamble said...

Thank you for this. Beautifully photographed and beautifully expressed. David and I enjoyed the quad, in our comings and goings from Denny, in bloom and out, in leaf and not, over the course of many years and many transitions. This is one more for the ages.

Anonymous said...

Hey, love that last photo. Good photographer! Actually, all these photos are amazing, the moist air really captured the delicate pink of those waning blooms. What a lovely morning that was!

jill said...

Anne, thanks for the long view!

Kathy, yes the trees sure have grown and venerable is a good word to describe how they appear now!

Judy, glad you enjoyed this post. Sweet memories.

Hey Mab, yes good photographer. :) Except my purse, ack! And lovely morning indeed. Thanks for the meetup.

Anonymous said...

Hey, nice to hear form you, we are having a walnut crew semi-camp out in the walnut orchard to view the August eclipse and I owe you some farm updates. Cherries are lovely abd tehy see3m to be doing nicely, not always the case in this climate. Mary Lou

Suezy Proctor said...

So, Jill...the narrative is wonderful, but this time I confess - the photos win, hands down!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for finally writing about >"University of Washington Cherry Blossoms: The Quad in Bloom" <Loved it!