Spring is the tender time of year. Light green leaves soften knobby-kneed tree limbs left naked over the winter. In a few months, the greens will darken and deepen and obscure even more of the trunk. But now, we savor this gentle, fleeting moment in time.
If I’m honest, though, when I see this yellow green of earliest spring, I feel sadness. Wistfulness. Longing. I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach that is a visceral reaction to – an even bordering-on-negative feeling toward – a certain shade that heralds the beginning of the next season. This sensation that comes annually has always struck me as unsettling.
In a zoom photo class, someone directed me to look up mono no aware – a term in Japanese culture that signifies the deep feeling or pathos of things, the powerful emotions that objects can evoke or instill in us.
In exploring, I found terms like “bittersweet awareness of the ephemeral natural of all things.” Apparently, “aware” can also translate to sensitivity.
“It is not meant to be a general sadness, but rather a deeply felt emotion that washes over the feeler as he or she realizes that everything is transient and of its own time and place.”
Then this: “References to nature as an example of mono no aware can be seen frequently in literary and artistic works in Japan, perhaps most notably regarding Sakura or cherry blossoms. Celebrated for their beauty as well as signifying the arrival of spring, the delicate cherry blossoms are only in bloom for about two weeks out of the year.”
Aha. Like the cherry blossoms, that early spring green is exquisite, but ephemeral. Understanding now that this powerful sensation has been echoed by many over centuries, I will be at peace when it comes again after the long winter.