Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Last Sunday I intended to publish another post on Hawaii, but I did not. My pictures of beautiful beaches and the calm blue Pacific Ocean seemed so far away from current events. I was also dealing with some health issues. But my issues are insignificant compared to the heartbreaking devastation the people of Japan are enduring. The magnitude of the disaster which keeps growing is unbearable and our hearts grieve at all the suffering we see. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the organization I support, has sent teams to Japan. You can read about it here and click on “Donate Now” if you are able or donate to another worthy charity. The Japanese people are resilient and have a great culture of compassion – I hope this will help them in the turmoil they face. It is hard to express our sorrow but life goes on. In 2011 spring starts on Sunday March 20th - I hope this new season will bring some comfort to all.

Under a sunny sky and warm weather - we expect the temperature to be 77 degrees (25 C) by tomorrow – I took my cameras to witness some signs of spring. Our dogwood trees are not flowering yet but our Oregon Holly bushes still had some of the minute yellow blossoms which are so fragrant and much loved by birds.

Click on collage to enlarge, then click on individual picture to biggify

Petite violets are coming up through the dead leaves.

Across the street our neighbors’ forsythia was in full bloom. Another shrub with dark pink blossoms was next to it, but I do not know its name.

Going down the street I could see, several houses down, a large tree covered with white blossoms.

I don’t have a macro lens on my camera but I still tried to get as close as possible to the blossoms to see them better.

Another tree was covered with a multitude of tiny pink blossoms

and the daffodils have been blooming for a while.

Yes, spring is here. How I wish it were the same in Japan. Below is a postcard I purchased when I visited Tokyo years ago with my daughter.

Postcard of cherry blossoms by Masami Nakamura (1907-1993)

I thought a collection of haiku poems composed by Japanese writers would complement these pictures and spring.

First day of spring--
I keep thinking about
the end of autumn.

-Matsuo Basho, Japanese, 1644-1694

Old print showing Matsuo Basho

Matsuo Basho was a Japanese writer, descendant of samurai and a Buddhist monk. He is internationally renowned as a master of haiku. Many of his poems are reproduced on monuments and traditional sites in Japan. Here is another haiku written by him:

From all directions
Winds bring petals of cherry
Into the grebe lake.
-Matsuo Basho

Picture courtesy Missouri Botanical Japanese Garden

I caught a petal fallen from cherry tree in my hand.
Opening the fist

I find nothing there.

-Kyoshi Takahama 1874-1959

Weeping Yashino cherry tree

In the current of spring tide
A tuft of algae passes
Like an arrow.

-Hisajo Sugita 1890-1946

Spring Drum Bridge, courtesy Missouri Botanical Japanese Garden

French translation of above haiku

Dans le courant de la marée du printemps
Une touffe d'algues passe
Telle une flèche.

-Hisajo Sugita 1890-1946

Ono no Tofu with Willows and Weeping Cherry Blossoms, Circa. 1909
courtesy Kioto National Museum

A tribute to the people of Japan

16th century Japanese painting of Kannon* Bosatsu,

* Kannon literally means "watchful listening," and is often translated as "the one who sees/hears all".

Kannon Bosatsu, or Kanseon, is the Japanese name of the Great Being of Compassion, Goddess of Mercy, assisting in times of difficulty and helping those in distress.

The horrific events in Japan show us again that life is precious and tragedy can strike suddenly. We all belong to this planet so what affects some of us really affects us all. We share their plight. We send our loving-kindness energy and healing thoughts to the Japanese people and also to those in the Pacific Rim who have been affected by this tragedy.


DJan said...

I am right there with you, VB. Compassion for all who are suffering right now, and there are so very many. Beautiful pictures of springtime coming, and the haiku are just perfect for this time. Thank you.

Rosaria Williams said...

A beautiful post, V. Yes, our thoughts cannot be too far from the Japan.

Jeruen said...

This is a very beautiful post. It makes hearts warm up, even though it's still freezing here in Buffalo. I love the pictures, and I appreciate the calm sentiment reading your blog post brings.

Unknown said...

Good blog my friend!

fly44d said...

Life is definitely precarious even without our trying to do ourselves in with pollution and war. The relative pico-second of time we have here has to be cherished as much as possible while doing the best we can to prevent and relieve suffering and giving pleasure.

Looking forward to some nicer spring weather, got things to do!

Reader Wil said...

Thank you for sharing your spring photos . They are very pretty. Your post is a real tribute to the people pf Japan. I also donate money to Doctors without Borders.
Sorry this comment is in English, but I am in a hurry and writing in French takes me twice as long and
I cannot say what I want to say.This week I have been glued to the TV. We are all worried about the situation with the nuclear power plant . It's the worst scenario that could have happened. I am very sorry for all those poor people.

claude said...

Quel beau post Vagagonde, fleuri et plein de compassion et d'hommages au Japon. C'est terrible ce qui s'est passé et ce qui se passe là-bas. Tant de dévastations, tant de morts et cette centrale atomique qui explose petit à petit. Le printemps japonais est un épouvantble cauchemar.

marciamayo said...

Isn't Atlanta gorgeous in the spring? I too am thinking about Japan and other parts of the world in crisis.

Ruth said...

I like Doctors Without Borders too, and the Red Cross.

The shrub with dark pink blossoms is wiegela, I think.

The signs of spring are hopeful. We all need to do what we can to restore balance, no matter how awful things get. It is not a heartless thing to do. If we aren't a well watered garden ourselves, we can't be helpful to someone in need.

This is a good and sensitive post for honoring Japan. Thank you.

Diane said...

My thoughts are also with the people of Japan the events have been horrific and the news is still not good.

Your photos of spring are beautiful, you are way ahead of us here in the UK. It will be interesting to see what stage France is when I return next weekend for summer. :-) Diane

Fennie said...

A beautiful post and you remind us of the beauty of Japan and the tragic events there. The MSF do excellent work.

One little point though: if spring starts on 20 March, when does it end
given that midsummer is 21 June?

For this reason I always say that spring commences on 1 March with each season following on every three months.

Anonymous said...

I lived there at Sendai from 1953 to the summer of 1956. Many of the people I knew are my age or older and I hope they survived.

Some of the younger ones I have met on twitter and Facebook are getting along in Sendai but complain about water, food and gasoline being scarce.

About the squirrels...

Actually you should leave them eat as they need the good protein as they are pregnant now and the number of babies they have depends on how healthy they are and how much food was available when they got pregnant.

""°o.O Nancy O.o°"" said...

*** Coucou Vagabonde ! le printemps arrive et ça fait un bien fou !! merci pour ton message chez moi ! J'espère que l'on trouvera un temps pour nous voir si tu viens à Paris en mai ! :o) BISES à toi et bonne journée à toi Vagabonde ! :o) ***

Anonymous said...

Lovely pictures! It got slightly warmer the last couple of days but we still had a snowstorm last week so I don't think winter is truly over yet.

What happened in Japan is a disaster hard to comprehend. A series of events led to devastation. I hope it doesn't get worse.

Jenn Jilks said...

Beautiful sights of spring. A loving tribute to a people who are suffering.

Thank you for visiting my blog !

Dutchbaby said...

What a touching tribute to the people in Japan, Vagabonde. I like Doctors without Borders too. They seem like a very efficient, non-wasteful organization. I also respect The Salvation Army.

I'm pretty sure that the dark pink blossoms in the same frame as the forsythia is Loropetalum chinensis, also known as Chinese fringeplant or Chinese witchhazel. I have several growing in my garden; they are very easy to grow.

Friko said...

blogger erased my comment.

Friko said...

I said something like that it feels almost indecent to celebrate spring. but nature gives us life and death indiscriminately and we can only take what she hands out.

You did well with this post, dear V.

(I hope it works.)

Jeanie said...

What a stunning post and eloquent tribute to the people of Japan and to spring -- new beginnings. I fear they will have far more new beginnings to deal with than most of us do in the spring, but you are right -- they are indeed resilient people and will triumph.

Your images make me smile -- we had a 60 degree day today and though we know the temps will drop by the weekend, I have seen daffodils poke their leaves from the ground and a few crocuses in bloom -- so I know spring will indeed arrive. I look forward to the day our beautiful campus has the apple blossoms, magnolias, cherry trees and more you are experiencing, but I know this day will come.

Sometimes there is a post you love so much you don't want to leave. This is one.

Kay said...

Thank you so much for this beautiful post and your fun comment on mine. I loved strolling through your blog. I would like to add your blog to my side bar. I shall be back.

Tammie Lee said...

a beautiful post full of compassion, links to help and overflowing with beauty. Thank you.

Arti said...

It pains to see so many in Japan suffering right now...Great tribute...

This post brings a genuine warmth with some lovely pics to go along!

rauf said...

We witness the glory and we witness the horrors of nature Vagabonde. It is sad when nature unleashes its horror to remind us how small we are.
But what will make us aware of human stupidity Vagabonde ?

To make matters worse there is a threat of radiation looming over our heads which is far more disastrous and longer lasting than the Tsunami. i feel sad for the people of Japan who seem to have the wisdom and the folly of forgetting the past. Hope they get back to Normal life and be prepared for such calamities caused by nature or human folly. Nature does not discriminate in its bounty and its horrors.

Immediate response to the disaster from all parts of the world has once again renewed my faith in human race inspite of all the discrimination i witness.

Very touching post with beautiful pictures Vagabonde to support and honour the suffering people of Japan.

sablonneuse said...

Let's hope there will soon be some signs of 'Spring and new growth' for the people in Japan who have lost so much and will have to start to rebuild their lives all over again in such difficult circumstances.

jabblog said...

Beautiful post and wonderfully illustrated with photos and Japanese paintings. We can only hope that relief will come for them soon. Each day seems to bring further tribulations.

Cloudia said...

Merci pour ce post lumineux!

Warm Aloha to you
from Honolulu!

Comfort Spiral


Elaine said...

It's heartbreaking to see the devastation that has happened in Japan. Your tribute to Japan is lovely. They have a difficult road ahead, and they can use all the help they can get from the rest of the world. What happens in any part of the world affects us all.

Your images of spring are beautiful. We have a ways to go yet, but we have some predictions of temps above freezing next week. I am looking forward to warmer weather with a bit of sadness that the beauty of the ice sculptures will soon melt away.

Unknown said...

Dear Friend
Thnaks for visiting my Blog and give me some apreciations and sugestions.
I could't find the post you told me about Belize, regarding to the picture in the header of my Blog. I looked for it with the adress you told me about, but it had a message telling "the page you're looking for doesn't exist"...
Congratulations about this post about spring and the wonderful pictures from the japanese gardens.
Japan is one of the countries I would like to visit, but now...oh, it's terrible what's hapenning there!
Kisses and hugs from your blogger friend from Portugal.

Pondside said...

Lovely post - thank you for putting this up for all of us to share.
I have such wonderful memories of last year's visit to Japan and am horrified by what has happened to the people. Recovery isn't even a thought as long as the present threat is unresolved. MSF is a great organization - the Red Cross too. We all need to pitch in and help.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

Your photos of the glory of spring are beautiful and your tribute to Japan and its people is a stunning contrast. My heart is broken over the multi-pronged disaster that Japan and its people are suffering. Your haiku and images are a wonderful reminder of our neighbors.

I love the Japanese Magnolia photo you posted with its bright pink flowers.

Best wishes to you, my friend,

Darlene said...

Your post reminds us that in the midst of tragedy Spring still arrives. After the horror personified by the cold winter, life cannot be stifled and hope personified by the beautiful flowers will come again.

Margaret said...

Beautiful and endearing post. It amazes me that Japan doesn't have a problem with looting and crime. With that sort of attitude towards life, they can't help but climb out of this horrific mess. The dear souls that are grieving right now... the pictures of grief really touch my heart. I look forward to your posts on Hawaii, but this was a very nice post to do.

Shammickite said...

I have been up every morming with my cup of coffee in front of the CBC News TV channel watching the devastation in Japan, and following the fortunes of the brave workers in the crippled nuclear reactor. First the earthquake, then the water, and now the threat of nuclear meltdown. My prayers are with the people of Japan. So many dead, injured or homeless. I can't imagine it.

Ginnie said...

I thought maybe the pink bush was azaleas, Vagabonde, since they are so plentiful in the south. But perhaps the others are right. Besides loving your moving tribute to Japan, I have found myself with longing for Atlanta at this time of the year. You have brought all back to a gift. Thank you.

✿France✿ said...

Je viens te dire merci tout en regardant tes si belles photos tes fleurs et toutes ces couleurs.ET bien entendu une grande pensée pour toutes ces personnes
Je t'embrasse

Wild_Bill said...

A beautiful post in all ways; words, photos, thoughts. It's so nice to blend personal with worldly, and you seem to do so effortlessly. Thank you. Bless all of our friends in Japan.

Vagabonde said...

To all – I have read your comments carefully. I cherish your visits and your comments are a joy to read. Thank you for taking the time to stop by. I am a bit behind as we went away but I’ll visit your blogs soon.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

It is so horrific that one's mind cannot comprehend it in all it's terrible terrible reality.
This is a beautiful post, my dear---So filled with compassion and caring. May the Japanese people survive this--as they have so many other catastrophic things....And may each and everyone come out of this stronger..Though, I must say, I don't know how they possibly could.
I guess that says more about me than them.

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