The tiniest fragments

Our cherry blossoms as seen from the living room window, March 22, 2017

“Somehow, even in the worst of times, the tiniest fragments of good survive. It was the grip in which one held those fragments that counted.”Melina Marchetta

“The NPS said that about 50 percent of the cherry blossoms survived, but now that we can see the flowers coming out it looks like that is going to look much better than that sounds…There are certainly whole trees where the cold damaged practically all of the blossoms on that tree, and there’s no question that the cold did significant damage–it’s easy to find the evidence of it. But most of them sustained only partial damage…even some of the individual blossoms that were damaged are still blooming. If you look very closely at some you can see that they have petals that are missing or have parts that are scorched brown but the rest of the flower looks fine. From a normal viewing distance, it just looks like a healthy flower, and you have to look very closely to notice it.” —  2017 Cherry Blossom Watch

Through a February that was among the all-time warmest on record, an early peak bloom was predicted for the famed cherry blossoms of the Washington DC area. But the weather pulled a cruel trick, reversing itself on March 10, just as the trees were budding. I had set the many flowering plants I nurtured through the winter out on the deck to enjoy the sunny warmth, but the night of Jeff’s burial, I forgot to bring them in, and with just one night’s exposure, they all froze. I was heartbroken, but cut back the dead leaves and decided to wait and watch in hope.

If the cherry trees are any indication, perhaps I may yet have a survivor among my scraggly plants. Our own trees, whose blooms I can see closely from our upstairs windows, are still beautiful despite having weathered the snowfalls, winds, and freezing temperatures. The buds were out on March 8, and I was afraid none of them would endure the long spell of cold weather that followed. But clearly, many of them did. I’m more thankful than ever for the resilience I see in them, and in so many other beautiful signs of hope.


  1. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia, from Willow Tree. ⛺️🏕 I have “hope in a few pots” as well. There are a couple that I babied all winter, in and out of our garage. I think there’s two geraniums and two spider plants. A Hibiscus (peach) has withstood our mild winter, with tiny green leaves showing at soil level. The weather in Alexandria on March 9th allowed us a most beautiful day, only to change to snow on March 10th, during Jeff’s beautiful service. Bill and I both commented it was so much better than RAIN. You know, it didn’t even feel cold to us! ❄️🌈 I know hope will keep appearing for you, when you least expect it! Love crosses the miles! Sheila

    • Sheila, I agree that it would have been much worse for it to be raining. In fact, it didn’t start snowing until we were near the end of our walk behind the caisson, and because Jeff’s grave is in the heart of the cemetery, the walk was much shorter than it might have been. So it all worked out. I did feel cold near the end of the graveside portion, and worried about the babies. I’m so glad you had a beautiful day to explore Old Town. I’m hoping your plants are doing well. Mine aren’t showing any signs of life so far, but I have resolved to replace each of them if I need to do it. Thanks for being an all-weather friend!! 🙂 ❤

  2. MaryAnn Clontz

    You are seeing Hope from our Heavenly Father on display! I know that adds a bit of warmth to your sadness & pain. I love you & pray everyday for you & Matt.

    • Mary Ann, I just took some photos that I plan to send you soon (or maybe post here) — the lovely flowers that you, Suzy and Brian sent finally faded, but the greenery stayed gorgeous so I just removed the spent blossoms and replaced them with some fresh flowers — and it looks so pretty! Thanks for your prayers. We are doing OK and I know it is because people are lifting us up.

  3. Harry Sims

    I am continuously amazed at the LIFE FORCE!

    Bon Vivant!


    • Yes, it’s quite inspiring, isn’t it?

  4. Amy

    My hydrangrea had started to open up so beautifully before we left for Maine. I talked to it and told it not to be fooled by the early spring but still it persisted in budding. I remembered to call the man who normally plows for us and ask him to plow while we were gone so the young man staying with Wrecker could get out but forgot about my beautiful plant and never thought to ask the young man to cover it up. It looks pretty scorched but I spoke to it last night and I have hope.

    • My hydrangeas at the York place have always come back. So far only one of them is “greening up” but since I found out not to cut the brown stalks off, I’m keeping an eye on them and hoping they will reappear soon. Our dogwoods were starting to bud this weekend.

      • Amy

        A neighbor told me to count three buds down from the “scorched” ones and cut at that point. He says it should help it flower and green up this spring.. Here’s hoping. I’ll let you know. 🙂

        • I so hope they will come back! Mine here are looking more and more hopeless, but every time I get upset about it, I tell myself that I’ll just get new ones. Keep me posted on yours.

  5. Julia, I’m hoping along with you. That is a brilliantly flowered tree. I’m happy to know that’s your view out the window. Nature’s gifts abound.

    • Alys, you should see it today! It’s fabulous, as full as I’ve ever seen it at peak bloom. The whole row of cherry trees outside looks beautiful. I will post an updated photo here soon. They seem to have lasted longer this year; the petals are just now beginning to fall. I was thinking “if only your visit was a bit earlier” but then I realized that as long as you keep missing peak bloom time, that will be a brilliant excuse for you to come back (and stay longer) in the springtimes to come!

      • I like the way you think, Julia. And although this will be all about having fun, my offers stands to come back and help with any organizing you might need or enjoy. Another excuse!

        • Alys, I have that on my list, and will not hesitate to use it. 😀 You have been warned! 😀

  6. Ours have not bloomed at all yet. Everything is confused or damaged. I’m sorry you lost so many plants. So many of mine didn’t make in the greenhouse this year, so sad.

    • Marlene, that’s so disheartening, isn’t it? Plants bring such joy to our lives, but few everyday things are more discouraging than when our plants give up and fade. “Confused” is probably a great way to describe what a lot of plants are experiencing, at least on a cellular level…or maybe they are better at adapting to climate extremes than we are. But my poor straggly plants that were so magnificent just a few short weeks ago definitely look as if they are saying “WHAT? what happened to the sun?” On the plus side, the cherry blossoms have not only lasted, but are actually looking quite phenomenal today. I hope to post an updated photo soon.

  7. LB

    I’m so pleased that so many buds have survived, especially for you! ❤

    • Thank you LB, they are looking truly amazing today!

  8. When nature wins, we win. Maybe they are stubbornly making a show of it knowing it will cheer you?! Happy for your views and I guarantee they will be much prettier than mine. The benifit, I suppose, of it being a great big beautiful world is there’s always something blooming somewheres. Bonus, we’re WordPressers! We can be anywhere we want to be, any time we want to be, with anyone we want to be. It’s pretty awesome xox K

    • Hey, that sounds like a Defeat Despair quote to me: “There’s always something blooming somewheres.” You might just see a post with that quote sometime in the future. 😀 Yes, WordPress puts the world at our fingertips in a very personal way. The combination of its global reach and the chatty, familiar tone of so many of the posts, to say nothing of the photographs captured lovingly by locals, bring the “real world” to us in a way that travel brochures never did. Another benefit of the great big beautiful world is that, thanks to advances in shipping and transportation, we now can pick up fresh bouquets of truly exotic flowers in most grocery stores! Thanks for these reminders of how blessed we are. ❤

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