There are two trees that signal summer is on its way, one puts on its floral frock in the first weeks of September, and the other its crimson korowai in the first few weeks of summer.

The cherry tree and its colourful cousin the pohutukawa are favourites for me. They tell me I have made it through another winter and as a reward, I get another shot at summer.

Sometimes - well more than some, it's a lot of times lately - I ask myself: Is it the ageing hippy in me, or is it just ageing itself that makes me notice nature more and more?

Has the tui always sounded so sweet in its song when siphoning off nectar from the kowhai? Has God always shown off with a korowai of colours laid down like an altar in front of the cherry and pohutukawa trees?


When you are young and free you take no notice of advice from adults when it comes to nature and nurture and noticing the bounty of beauty that is ever-present everywhere does not seem to matter.

That stuff is for old people to be blown away by and as for smelling roses - well, why would you bother when there are far more important fragrances to feast upon?

On Saturday night, we hosted a team of teenage tamariki who have a whole life ahead of them - especially the one celebrating her 15th birthday. Downloading, Snapchatting, messaging and micromanaging each other's music tastes are OMG like must happen now, and everything else is laters.

Trying to paint a picture about what I had seen that morning involving beauty and blossoms and God showing off with a Bethlehem cherry tree in full bloom is sadly about as important as doing the dishes.

They just didn't want to know, so I put them all in my wagon and took them to see it.

"Oh yeah, pretty cool."

They had not noticed it before, but then again how could they when they are always looking down at the palms of their hands?

Now I really am starting to sound like David Bellamy talking to Nigel Latta.

My point is natural beauty doesn't seem to count when we are kids.

Then one day, (it doesn't have a specific date on the calendar nor does it come gift wrapped with a cake and candles) something kicks into our senses, and suddenly, smelling the roses and noticing nature registers on the importance ladder - and we start climbing it.

You notice things that have been staring you in the face for most of your life but for one reason or another, you have been too busy to see them - until now.

I guess it's called old age?

The stage you reach in life when the raw beauty of a blossoming Bethlehem cherry tree registers on your radar and it makes you wonder why you hadn't seen it before.

Whatever it is, Mother Nature came calling on Saturday morning and I noticed a beauty on the way into town just past the Bethlehem roundabout at Hawkridge.

The Japanese culture has held the cherry blossom tree sacred for hundreds of years.

The blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life, just as an old person does when he or she starts to notice nature by slowing down and taking time to smell her rich floral fragrance and feast one's eyes on its pretty in pink coloured korowai she puts on for one week of the year – just for us.

If there ever was a reminder of the untamed beauty of life - and how short its sentence is for each of us serving out our time on planet earth, then the cherry blossoming season is an invoice of such notice.

For my two bob's worth of pretty in pink putiputi, all of our kids have the potential to play a part in saving this planet - or at least leaving a cherry blossom footprint for their kids to marvel at.

The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years. It's a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful but that it is also tragically short.

Due to their short bloom time, sakura blossoms are a metaphor for life itself: beautiful yet fleeting.

Kia ora sakura, thanks for the reminder. It is a timely gift given every spring and the more we look for it the more we understand its true rewards.

As I said to the kids in the car: "You'll realise when you're as old as me to hang on to the good times because they won't last forever."

Tommy Kapai Wilson is a local writer and best selling author. He first started working for the Bay of Plenty Times as a paperboy in 1966 and has been a columnist for 15 years. Tommy is currently the executive director of Te Tuinga Whānau, a social service agency committed to the needs of our community.