Happy (lunar) New Year

Today is the first day of the New Year on the lunar calendar. When I was a child in Vietnam, this was always my favorite holiday, marked by one of my favorite flowers, the flowering quince. It was a tradition to bring in your home branches of flowering quince in the hope that the buds will open precisely on New Year's day, bearing hope and prosperity for the coming year.

I have always loved these exquisite blossoms, painted pale pink against the dark leafless branch. The sense of anticipation of that most important day of the year when we got to eat special treats, have new clothes and stay up late, accompanied the opening of those tiny buds. Bound up in the delicate petals, whose beauty was as fragile and fleeting as a whisper, was the all the hope and optimism that always comes at the beginning of a journey, the fresh start of the new year.

This morning my brother emailed me to tell me that my father had always brought him branches of flowering quince for his house every year of the last decades of his life. So now I have a beautiful image of my father cutting branches of flowering quince for his son, something I am sure to think of every lunar New Year in the future.

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