News & Classical Music from Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Outdoors: Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossom
Mads Claus Rasmussen
AFP/Getty Images
A child takes in the sights under blooming Japanese cherry trees at the Bispebjerg Cemetery in Copenhagen, Denmark.

"Sakura, sakura, blossoms waving everywhere.
Clouds of glory fill the sky.
Mist of beauty in the air."

This Japanese folk song describes cherry blossom time, an event the people of Japan have celebrated for centuries.

Their trees are ornamental, but since 1852 in the Great Lakes Region, when Presbyterian missionary Peter Dougherty planted the first cherry orchard on the Old Mission Peninsula, the people of “Cherryland” have similarly anticipated commercial orchards' cherry blossom time.

Cherry trees are temperature dependent.

They require at least a month of a relatively low temperature in winter and then gradual warming in the spring.

This year, the gradual warming has been, well, extremely gradual.

Usually, cherries bloom when temperatures consistently reach and stay around 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and drop to approximately 32 degrees at night.

Each individual blossom lasts a mere four or five days.

But there are so many microclimates along the shores of Lake Michigan that flowers are always blooming somewhere over a period of several weeks.

I looked up the definition — "sakura" (桜 or さくら) is “the Japanese word for cherry blossom trees and their blossoms – special flowers which symbolize the spring, the beauty of nature, renewal and the ephemeral nature of life.”

The alternative meaning is “smile.”

"Outdoors with Coggin Heeringa" can be heard every Wednesday on Classical IPR.