Katherine Neville’s Latest Newsletter
Cherry Blossom Newsletter
March 20, 2020
Early Cherry Blossoms
In the opening scene of my novel, The Eight, the cherry blossoms bloom early: “Some said it was a good omen that they had bloomed so soon, a symbol of rebirth after the long and brutal winter. But then the cold rains had come and frozen the blossoms on the bough, leaving the valley buried thick in red blossoms stained with brown streaks of frost. Like a wound congealed with dried blood. And this was said to be another kind of sign.”
I have another key cherry-blossom scene, set here in Washington DC, in The Fire–the sequel to The Eight–where today the famous Japanese cherry trees surrounding the tidal basin are in full bloom, somewhat earlier than usual. (See CherryBlossomWatch.com for pictures and updates.)
The Spring Equinox is earlier now, too! This turning point of the year is called Alban Eilir, “Light of the Earth” in the Celtic calendar, Ostara in German from the goddess Eostre (Easter)–when day and night are equal in length. This marks the point each year, when we can re-evaluate what kinds of seeds we have previously planted. The message of The Fire, contained within the magical chess set, is Balance: yin-yang, staying in tune with natural cycles, planting today for a richer harvest tomorrow. “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”
Today is a major turning point, as together, around the world, we enter verdant Springtime.
Our use of language is interesting. We’ve been using expressions in our “social media” like: “Going Viral”–as if it were a good thing to share everything that comes out of our mouths, even with those who don’t care to be on the receiving end. Computer viruses aside, Mother Nature is showing us that it may be time for a Reality Check when it comes to real life.
There are two famous literary visions of the future, and each begins with April!
The gloom-and-doom of T. S. Eliot’s desiccated version in Wasteland:
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain…
The juicy, ripe-and-raunchy rollicking of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales:
In April, when sweet showers pierce the drought of March to the root,
and bathe the veins of every plant in such liquor…then do folks long to go on Pilgrimages.
(My rough translation)
Which view of our future do we prefer? I like the juicy, natural version, running with sap, traveling around on foot and moving through the natural world, right here on earth. Not the “virtual reality” we’ve been creating, or creating another version of “life” on a dried-out planet.
When Voltaire said Il faut cultiver notre jardin (we must tend our own garden) he called his book Candide, or Optimisme. Amen.