Monday, March 1, 2021

Somewhere between winter and spring

It's March!
Ume blossoms, the floral harbinger of spring of Japan, have brightened up 
the pale wintry landscape.

March is the month when changes happen dramatically repeating cold and warm spells
as is Japanese saying 三寒四温 meaning "three cold days, four warm days."
This year, however, the changes have been occurring record early since the first snowfall in January.
Temperature topped 24C on February22.

Winter and spring have alternated.

Medical care workers finished the first vaccination for COVID-19 mostly
but the vaccination project is largely delayed.
Plans for spring is up in the air in spite of an air of expectation.
But spring will come for sure.

March 3 is time-honored Doll's Festival dedicated to girls.
One day in mid-February, I rolled up my sleeves and got busy to display 
a set of hina dolls on the seven-tired stand.
The time-consuming, tough work was paid off by the joyful reaction of 
three-year-old M living nearby.

Empress Doll and the view from the top

Dolls' Festival is a celebration for healthy growth and wellbeing of girls.
 Dolls are believed to protect people from diseases and misfortunes.
I'm thankful to be able  to watch over how my grandchildren (not only girls)
 growing individually through their various different challenges - ballet, 
swimming, abacus, music, shogi, flower arrangement, soccer, academic skills, etc.

Rolled sushi, gyoza, hamburger steak, bento for picnic, strawberry cake - all of my Grands like cooking.
F and Y finished the primary course of "Ikebana", the traditional art of flower arrangement.

Dolls' Festival is a tasteful celebration, too.
"Chirashi zushi/sushi" (bottom in the mosaic) is made with lotus roots, 
boiled shrimps, thinly shredded eggs, salmon roes or smoked salmons, etc., as you like, 
on the vinegared rice.
As to other delicacies, look at this past post Cheers to Hina dolls and Womanhood!

Last week, two of my friends and I got together, not virtual but in person at my home.
Air was chilly but the sun was quite kind while we were outside.
We had tasteful conversation wearing one or two masks...., 
wishing of the talk over lunch or refreshment someday as we used to do.

Linked to Mosaic Monday

Monday, February 15, 2021

Footsteps of Spring


梅一輪 一輪ほどの あたたかさ
A single ume flower
single flower's 
worth of warmth
(Ransetsu Hattori, 1654-1707)

One Ume blossom (Prunus mume) in the chilly wind gives us warmth even if faintly.

It was too beautiful to stay indoors yesterday.
I went to Kyoto Prefectural Botanical Garden to walk leisurely and to see 
and take pictures of snowdrops.

Dainty Snowdrops shimmer pearly white.

Snowdrops are one of the first flowers to appear in the new year 
together with daffodils.

Ducks, herons and pigeons were enjoying themselves in the mid-April-like warmth. 

The duck duo (above) was always together like lovebirds or best friends
as long as I looked at them.
The below is a threesome.

Here's a Valentine's Day message from nature.

Valentine's Day custom of Japan would be unique.
It's only women who present, customarily chocolates or other sweets, to loved ones.
One month later March 14, men offer in return gifts to women.
We love chocolate, but the loveliest present to my husband was 
the hand-made animal cookies from our granddaughter M and her mother.

"Winter General", a very strong cold front from Siberia, is attacking us in a few days.
It's not easy to adjust myself to the frequent big temperature difference,
but ready to face the frigid cold again, wishing another snowfall.

Linked to Mosaic Monday

Monday, January 25, 2021

The first snowfall of the season

According to the 72 divisional calendar of Japan, Jan.25 to 29 is the coldest time
水沢腹堅 meaning "ice thickens on streams."
Unfortunately, the coldest, driest season is the best time of life to COVID.
But let's not be intimidated to enjoy the season in possible ways with all the preventive measures.
Albert Camus,  the author of The Plague, wrote in his Return to Tipasa ;
"In the middle of winter, I at last discovered that there was within me an invincible summer."
He realized the powerful life-giving source like the summer sun within him in the depth of winter.
As for myself,  the darker, or the colder,  the more I become aware of  the light inside of myself.

The first snowfall of the season is one of the most exciting things regardless of age. 
When you live in a place where it rarely snows despite all the frigid days,
you can't miss the precious opportunity.
I hurried to the nearest park in my neighborhood with a camera last week.
I hadn't thought the slide of the park (the photo below) was so eye-catching till then.

There's something serene and uplifting about walking alone in the falling snow.
The beautiful, smooth barks were soaring straight to the pearly grey sky.

The spade-shaped Chinese Tallow leaves were hanging in there.

In the hushed world, trees, swing, slide...., all  were covered with snow.
 I thought of the snow days in my childhood and I felt like that I heard children's joyous shouts.
The first grader Y told me later that he enjoyed snowball fighting with friends at the noon recess.

The back of the slide is Chinese Tallows with brown cracked skins of white fruits. 
Birds often come to the seed-like fruits.

Tiny buds to bloom in spring attract more attention in the snow, and so do the withered flowers,
telling us the constant  life flow of coming and going in nature.

As a reflection freak, I didn't miss the frozen reflection of cherry trees on the windshield.

In an hour, snow turned to sleet and I walked back home.
My daughter sent me photos of M's first experience of snow in her life.

Linked to Mosaic Monday