Night of Change

Sami was cold, wet and dirty and went home, but Guru Baba said that he should get changed and come back; he’d given his assistant the day off so that he could “work all night”, not call it quits after half a night. When Sami returned half an hour later, Guru Baba was lying at the centre of a circle of trees. “Come and join me,” he said. “Tonight is special. It is a night of change.”

Sami had recovered his humour and said, “But Guru Baba, I’ve already changed into fresh clothes. My mother has washed and ironed them for me. I can’t get them dirty. Do you want me to upset my creator?”

Guru Baba smiled and said, “Yes you are right. It is okay for me – an old man with some orange cloth wrapped around him – but you should protect your highly fashionable, freshly laundered items.” He rolled out the edge of his robe. “Here, come and sit on this.”

Sami sat on the robe and looked around. Guru Baba had chosen a spot amongst gnarly, bare trees. He wondered how this related to the “night of change.”

“See! The trees are waiting,” said Guru Baba. “Winter comes and goes yearly, kissing the honeybees.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“We are enjoying a Hanami party. We must compose poems.”

Sami’s Japanese pen pal had mentioned Hanami parties. Annual blossom forecasts informed Japanese people of the progress of sakura, cherry blossoms. They lasted only for a week or so, sweeping through the land like a tsunami.

In ancient times sakura was used to divine successful harvests, and it announced the start of the rice planting season. In modern times it initiates the school and fiscal years.

So that’s what Sami and the sage were doing, admiring cherry blossoms.

The bare tree was looking different already. Shoots and leaves appeared. “Green little fingers,” said Guru Baba, “clicking with sunshine almost. Oh, they are blushing.”

His Japanese pen pal had also mentioned haiku, little poems of seventeen syllables that combined ideas with images. They have three lines of five, seven and five syllables respectively, and always include a natural reference.

As Sami observed the trees, little white balls appeared among the leaves. They opened out into blossoms, each with a central green stem surrounded with yellow filaments.

Guru Baba said, “The green tree is strong, but yellow stars bursting must, visit and leave gifts.”

In biology they had dissected flowers. Sami couldn’t see the blossoms that closely, but knew that the central pistil had a bulbous stigma, and was surrounded by yellow stamens. Their heads contained pollen which was transferred by insects for pollination.

Oh the heart of life, welcomes those who bravely come, give all that you have.”

The sakura glowed in the moonlight, and fell around them like snow. Sami said, “My youth is my gift, life follows joyful seasons, but suffering too.”

Guru Baba turned his head and said, “Don’t be so miserable.”

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