(As told to Ed Grisamore.)
GRIS: Happy first day of the festival and happy second day of spring.
MR. B: Thank you. Are you in charge of the weather?
GRIS: No, I can’t take the credit -- or the blame. I’m a newspaper columnist.
MR. B: I’ve heard of you. You’re the fellow who asks those tough trivia questions on Mondays.
GRIS: Let’s start with some background. What is your name?
MR. B: Right now, folks call me Bud. By the weekend, I will be promoted to Blossom.
GRIS: That’s nice to hear. We didn’t see much of you last year until after the festival. Who are those folks on either side of you?
MR. B: They’re my “buddies.’’ We will be in full uniform by the middle of next week.
GRIS: Awesome. Has anyone ever told you how pretty you are?
MR. B: (Blush.) I prefer handsome. You know, I’m a guy.
MR. B: That’s OK. I’m sure the tiny pinch of pink threw you off. It happens all the time.
GRIS: Where do you live?
MR. B: In the park at the corner of Third and Mulberry, on the northeast end of William Arthur Fickling Walk. Four paper lanterns are hanging from the branches of my tree. I’m just a few steps from the 3-ton, 8-foot lantern hand-carved by craftsmen in our sister city of Kurobe, Japan. A granite bench was dedicated at my feet 30 years ago this week.
GRIS: You’re in a prime location. A lot of folks would consider the stretch of Third Street Park between Cherry and Mulberry to be the epicenter of the festival.
MR. B: I’ve got the best seat in the house. I know there are a lot of activities at Central City Park and other venues. And I would consider it an honor to be among the blossoms out at the Fickling farm or Wesleyan Woods. But you can’t be everywhere, and this is a signature spot.
GRIS: Sure looks like a bloom with a view from here.
MR. B: There is something happening around me every day. There are long lines for free ice cream. I don’t have to pivot my petals very far to catch Saturday’s bed race over on Cherry Street and Sunday’s parade. Next week’s arts and crafts festival is right behind me.
GRIS: How old are you? You appear to be rather mature.
MR. B: I’m not sure of my exact age in Yoshino years, but my host tree is the granddaddy on the block. The rows planted along the walkway are made up of younger trees that replaced many of my peers.
GRIS: How many blossoms are there in Macon?
MR. B: They are like stars in the sky. They claim there are 300,000 cherry trees in this city -- one for every man, woman, child, dog, cat and gnat. I figure there are at least 839 blossoms per tree, so you do the math.
GRIS: Sorry. Journalists are mathematically challenged. I’ll take your word for it.
MR. B: A single blossom might not make a difference, but collectively, we can take your breath away.
GRIS: You look white, which I assume means you’re not “ripe.” Are you having a pink complexion problem?
MR. B: Be patient and follow my bloom cycle over the next week. It’s a thing of tutti frutti beauty.
GRIS: I’ve noticed pink blossoms painted on storefront windows and splashed across back windshields. Does that make you proud?
MR. B: Absolutely. I like to think there’s a little bit of us in every one of them. See the one over there in the window at the new Telegraph building? It bears a likeness to me. I’ve got a twin.
GRIS: There is pink everywhere. Pink newspapers. Pink poodles. Pink pancakes. Pink socks. Pink buses. Pink port-a-potties. There’s even a new pink Christmas tree on display in the Long Building at Central City Park.
MR. B: That’s why they call it “Pinkistan.”
GRIS: What do you like most about the festival?
MR. B: I love the way it brings the community together. Not only does it attract visitors from all over, which helps the local economy, it’s a point of pride to those who live, work and raise their families here. Nothing else can match it. It’s the tie that binds.
GRIS: Thank you for your time. It’s time for me to, pardon the pun, leave. Folks might get the wrong idea if they see me in the park carrying on a conversation with a cherry blossom. Is there anything you want to add?
MR. B: Yes, I’d like to close with a quote from “The Last Samurai.” It goes like this: “A perfect cherry blossom is a rare thing. You can spend your whole life looking for one, and it will not be a wasted life.”
Reach Gris at 744-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.