2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the gift of the blossoming cherry trees to Washington, DC from the Mayor of Tokyo, Japan. This year the Cherry Blossom Festival, hosted by the National Park Service, runs from March 20 to April 27, with the Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Street Festival), to be held today, April 14.
Three Fridays ago, I spent most of the afternoon at the Tidal Basin admiring the cherry blossoms at their peak along with thousands of other people from around the world who were taking advantage of the perfect weather.
On my way to the Tidal Basin, I saw several bikers and runners on the path that runs alongside the George Washington Parkway (also run by the National Park Service), which is actually pretty gorgeous as far as parkways go, with several nice spots where you can picnic among the tress along with a close-up view of the Potomac River.
Right next to the Tidal Basin sits our National Mall, which isn’t looking quite as pretty. The National Mall’s last renovation was 30 years ago, after the country’s bicentennial in 1976. Between the reduced Park Service budgets, which haven’t allowed for adequate upkeep, and the over 25 million annual visitors (more than Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon combined!), the Mall is in pretty sad condition.
Our national parks are an incredible resource, and I highly recommend visiting them. Being outdoors has so many benefits for the body, mind and spirit. Even if you don’t have a lot of vacation time, you can search the National Park Services’ website. to find a National Park near you that can be visited in just one day or afternoon.
Even if you don’t have time to visit them right now, there are a few ways you can help support the health and vitality of our National Parks. First, the Eco Etsy team is holding their Annual Handmade for Earth Day Auction. All proceeds from the year’s auction go to support the National Park Service. I highly recommend you check out the beautiful eco-friendly items being auctioned off for this good cause.
A second way you can help is by supporting The Trust for the National Mall, the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, which is dedicated to “restoring and improving the National Mall while providing new educational and volunteer activities to connect visitors to the Mall’s rich history.”
You can also join the L’Enfant Society whose members support the Trust for the National Mall in its mission “to raise funds to restore the National Mall and build awareness for the current state of the country’s most visited national park.” You can download a PDF of the L’Enfant Society Membership Brochure. Another fun way to support the park is by attending the L’Enfant Society’s 4th Annual Ball on the Mall will be held on Saturday, May 5, 2012!
Imagine how different the world might be if the trillions of dollars we use every year to establish a destructive presence (military, corporate, and otherwise) on foreign soil were used instead to enrich our own soil.
Over the past week I have been in National Parks in Colorado and New Mexico. They evoked in me a feeling of peace, tranquility, awe and oneness with the world – a very different feeling than when I arrived home, as the plane descended into Washington, passing over the Pentagon…
Mary, you were so close. Next up – a trip to the Grand Canyon?
Hi Tammy, I know! I was in Colorado to visit family for a couple of days, then Santa Fe for business for a few days, so it didn’t leave spare time for travel to all the cool nearby places. I hope to make another trip out West this year, purely for fun, so that I have time for visits!
Absolutely wonderful post! You are so lucky! I dream of going to Washington at this time of year!
I’ll be mentioning your post on my blog today!
Laurie, ecoetsy teammate
Thank you so much, Laurie! It’s definitely the best time of the year to visit DC. And thank you for passing the word along! Our National Park system is amazing and people in every state can enjoy their varied beauty, even if they don’t have cherry blossoms!
I would love to visit Washington – those cherry blossoms are amazing! Those blossoms in the first image are absolutely sublime!
Thanks for your comment, Morgan! The blossoms are amazing, and the photos don’t even begin to do them justice. I hope you have a chance to visit next year. My husband took that first photo, so I will pass along your comment to him 🙂
What a lovely post! I’m orginally from the East Coast and have always wanted to see the gorgeous cherry blossoms in DC-thanks for sharing the photos. National Park week is April 21-29, take advantage of free admission to any national park.
Thank you so much, Tanya. I hope you will have a chance at some point to see the cherry trees in bloom. In the meantime, you are in one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever seen! I hope you get to enjoy the outdoors every day. And thank you for the reminder about National Park week. I will take advantage of that to go hiking in the Shenandoah National Park.