When the river rises and the figs ripen, when the irises are in full bloom and from the fields mirrors the colour of quicksilver materialize, then we welcome the nightly evensong of the frogs and I get on my bike and go hunting for the first viewing of planted rice sprouts.
People In The Know, know that, among many things, one of the things the Japanese do best are the seasons. Students will proudly confess, as if no one else in the world had ever experienced seasons, “We have four seasons in Japan.” Truth be told, it is quite possible that outside of Japan, you probably have not experienced the particulars of each season with quite the attention and love in which they are celebrated here.
My favourite name for the season we are in presently is Bai-u, the season of the plum rains, and I had occasion to see in the Plum Grove in the Garden a few days ago, the ground sprinkled with a good number of the small golden fruits fallen from the trees. Most of the green, unripe so-called ‘blue plums’ had already been harvested for the early summertime activity of making the delicious plum cordial called ume-shu.
Yesterday, browsing through the Sasaki Sanmi’s great manual on the Way of Tea, I was transported into reverie by this:
. . . the sound of rain falling from the eaves and the singing of the kettle calm your mind. Isn’t it fun to hear the occasional falling of ume (a plum) to the ground?
Just passing the time of day during the early summer rain is apt to lead to joy . . .
The mornings nowadays are breezy and cool mostly, and when they are not there is a soft grey stillness that rests lace-like in the décolletage of the hills on the near-horizon. There are hydrangeas all over the show, in every possible hue and variation. The lotus flowers have begun to bloom and I shall, this weekend, be putting my nose in the way of some of the gardenia that blossom exuberantly along the canals and roads in town. On dry days one might be treated to evening cool descending with the moonrise and that beautiful twilight release of fragrance. On wet days, one might catch the whiff of a stick of incense burning to freshen and lift the spirits.