Sakura Hanami

Of all the festivals, Holi was my favourite growing up. Holi celebrates celebrates the coming of spring with all its beautiful colours. When I was a not so little girl, we had a  tradition. Every year, my mother would take a picture of me before I washed off all the colours.

Branch Brook Park - Cherry Blossoms2Here in the United States, I have appropriated the Japanese tradition of welcoming spring by going “cherry blossom viewing”. If we can’t go anywhere, I make it a point to stand under a cherry tree and admire the pale pink clouds. Washington D.C. hosts a very popular cherry blossom festival, but I have always maintained it’s nicer to go locally. The D.C. festival is great and can be done once, but it feels like everyone in the country has descended on tidal basin.

Collages15This year, we went to the Branch Brook Park in Newark, a twenty minute drive from home. At first it seemed like the rapid weather changes in the past week had destroyed  all the blossoms. Walking around a bit, we saw other groups headed to the other side of the water. Crossing over, we found Spring had not been completed routed. It had fallen back and held it’s lines here.

Branch Brook Park - Cherry Blossoms1In Japanese culture the short life of the delicate sakura (cherry blossoms) is considered symbolic of the fleeting nature of life.The blossoms fall around two weeks after they peak. Hanami literally means “viewing blossoms” and the tradition can be traced back to the last millennium. During the Nara period (710–794), in a  more ancient form of the tradition, people admired the transient beauty of ume (plum blossoms). In was only during the  Heian period (794–1185) that  hanami became synonymous with sakura. Today, a thousand years later and an ocean away, people still enjoy picnicking under the trees.

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Frozen

As part of our anniversary celebrations, we decided to go see Niagara Falls “frozen”.

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Niagara Falls

The falls themselves never freeze over  a 100%. The rate at which the water flows does not permit that. The landscape around was white, while the falls were only partially frozen. Perhaps they might have been more frozen during that crazy polar vortex we experienced this winter, but it would have been quite foolhardy to attempt going there then.

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All Weather Friends

The highlight of the trip was the meeting the *bestie, who drove down from Canada to spend some quality time with us. (Love you loads. Muaawwhh.) It was her first solo road trip to the US, so lots of excitement on that front as well.

Wine Tasting

On our way back, we stopped over in the Finger Lakes region for breakfast. The cafe we stopped at was attached to a winery, so we decided to take our chances and sample some east coast wines. Now I am no oenophile, but I liked the whites. Not that the reds were bad, but the whites were better. The tasting experience itself was no better than the one I had on the West Coast. Glasses not rinsed out, not even between the reds and whites-wince. Lesson learnt, tip your wine waiter in advance. Please note, I am deliberately not using the word wine waiter(/bar tender) and not sommelier.

Taughannock Falls

We drove past Lake Cayuga and upto to the Taughannock Falls view point, for a spectacular winter scenery. While we were driving back, we noticed a little creamery to the side of the road. Who can resist the idea of ice creams on a cold frozen day? In the Husband’s words the texture of the ice cream was smooth as silk. Arguably, the best we’ve had till date.

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As we made are way back home, we drove through Ithaca. A quick message to the **B-I-L that we were driving through his town, got us all the insider tips on it.

We really made the most of this 2 day road trip. We covered everything planned,  made a few unscheduled stops and enjoyed every bit of it.

Cornell University, Ithaca

 

*Roliza Mascarenhas

** Ashok Roy

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Grocery and a Dove

Coo

We were in for a little surprise at the local Indian store last evening. There was a dove, white as a snowflake, quite at home amongst the groceries.
While paying for the shopping, I asked the girl at the till, and was told that it belonged to the owners. It normally roosted outside, but would come in when it got too cold.