Posted by: Brad Nixon | April 2, 2019

Ode to Spring: Loveliest of Trees

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Traveling in the Pacific Northwest recently, I had an opportunity to appreciate the advent of spring as we never see it in southern California.

It’s been a long, hard, cold winter all along the western coast of North America. There’s been more rain than usual, amidst long stretches of dark, dreary days, and more than the usual amount of snow. But it’s taken only a few days of sun and only slightly warmer temperatures to bring the flowers out in profusion and — most welcome of all — to clothe the dogwoods, plums and cherries with blossoms.

Portland cherries Brad Nixon 4759 640

Despite its reputation for rainy weather, the city of Portland, Oregon doesn’t receive any more annual precipitation than cities like Cincinnati or Pittsburgh. But the rain comes on in long, slowly-developing Pacific Ocean storms that can persist for days.

It’s not a bitter, northern climate, but a temperate one, where summer temperatures often climb above 100 degree Fahrenheit. During a winter like the one of 2018-19, though, winter can seem endlessly long.

Portland’s a river city, stretching along both banks of the Willamette River (will-AM-ett), close to its confluence with the Columbia. The city’s made much of its location, actually removing a freeway that once ran alongside the river and replacing it with an extensive city park and “riverwalk.”

Here’s a view of the western — downtown — bank in midsummer. Were it in Europe, the expanse of riverside parkland would be called “The Esplanade.”

Portland riverfront pano 1

Those trees you see lining the esplanade, photographed above in midsummer, are cherry trees. At this time of year, bursting forth from the dark, cold winter, they are resplendent. Here are those trees, photographed last week as they celebrated the season.

Portland cherries Brad Nixon 4757 640

Poor ol’ A. E. Housman — whose lines opened this blog post — never once managed to resist the temptation to bring the eternal note of sadness in, as his predecessor, Mr. Arnold, would have it. He ends his paen to the cherry with almost inevitable melancholy — thus:

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

I choose, instead, to celebrate the spring. Let us celebrate the cherry bloom and be glad. Old time may still be a-flying, but it brings the blooms each spring, however hard the winter. For if winter comes ….

Licensable, high resolution versions of the cherry blossom photos, and select images from other Under Western Skies posts are available on Click on the linked photos, or CLICK HERE to view the Underawesternsky photo portfolio.

© Brad Nixon 2019. “Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now” from A Shropshire Lad, A. E. Housman, 1896.


  1. Cherry blossom heralds the beginning of springtime and it’s putting on a wonderful show for us now too in our parks and gardens. Our blossom has been in flower for almost two weeks and for once there haven’t been any gales to blow the delicate flowers off. I think we all appreciate blossom from these trees so much because it’s so delicate but short lived. I enjoyed reading about your visit to Portland, I haven’t been there but my elder son is spending a week there in June attending a conference and he’s planned an extra day at each end to explore.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re a bit north of Prof. Houseman’s Shropshire, but I’m pleased tp know you’re enjoying the spring. I highly recommend Portland’s Rose Garden and — especially — the adjacent Japanese Garden. They may not seem like a young man’s destinations, but his wide travels should let him appreciate 2 of America’s best gardens. An enormous amount to see in Portland. Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What delight to find your post blooming in my inbox this morning. Like you, we’ve endured a seemingly endless winter: not particularly severe, but gloomy beyond words. Now things are blooming with a vengeance here, and you’re clearly on the way to better things. Here’s to blue skies, breezes, and blooms galore!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Very beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely post — perfect for the advent of spring and National Poetry Month.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Gearing up for National Poetry Month, and eager to find how it will be celebrated at My Eclectic Cafe.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. How lovely your ‘esplanade’ must be this time of year with the explosion of cherry blossoms. From a distant it almost does look as if the branches were drenched in snow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Something universal in those trees that resonate with people everywhere.

      Liked by 1 person

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