Posted in Around Town, Little things I love about Japan

The Spring Countryside

We have barely had a spring here this year. It has been really cool, rainy and seeing the sun was a rare event.

When the sun was out (like today) then the particulate matter was through the roof and I wasn’t able to go outside. It’s such a shame -our area is so beautiful but in recent years we have had a problem with pollution blowing over from across the ocean. Today’s PM reading was 170!! That’s basically off the charts. I have asthma so even a moderately high reading is unhealthy for me. Today I would have needed a WW2 gas mask. People run around in flimsy little surgical masks when the PM is high but they don’t do much to really protect you. The stuff gets into your eyes, your hair…everything.  It deposits a fine yellowish grit onto everything.

I hide indoors with the windows shut.

BUT about two weeks ago we had such a nice day so I threw my chores aside and hit the road. Gosh did that ever feel good! I walked 11 kilometers.

What a perfect day-sunshine and moderate PM readings.

The fuji was in bloom and I didn’t even realize it until I came up over the hill and there it was-cascading down the trellis in the old playground. Because the spring has been so gloomy I haven’t been out much to really notice.

I wandered down the road just enjoying the gardens. I think that is one of my favorite parts about living in the countryside-the cottage gardens.

Usually located right around the house or in the sunniest spot on the property. No home is really complete here without some form of vegetable patch.

I saw that the clover was also in bloom. The rice farmers plant a crop of pink clover in the rice fields as green manure. Right before planting time it will get cut down and plowed under.

I stood here for a long time watching big chubby bees drifting from flower to flower while dozens of butterflies played tag.

May 5th is boy’s day and I saw several houses already flying the carp…

My husband told me that these are extremely expensive. Some sets cost up to $10,000 USD. I have no idea why anyone would want to spend that much on carp flags. The are pretty though.

There are several old farm houses that I love looking at. I hope that I don’t make the occupants feel uncomfortable when I stand out on the road for several minutes and just stare at the house. I’m fascinated by the way they look. They remind me of old fairy-tale homes.

Just look at this old place.

It looks like one good sneeze from the farmer could reduce the place to matchsticks. He still parks his tractor in there!

Here are a few shots from the other side. I wish I could just wander around there and take photos. I’ll just bet there is some interesting stuff laying around!

Wildflowers were in abundance along the roadside,in hedge-grows and creeping from crevices in old stone walls. Actually they were just everywhere!

As I got near the foot of the mountain I noticed these interesting plants. I have no idea what they were. They kind-of looked like some sort of bamboo.

This little lane looked so inviting to me. For some reason it brought back childhood memories.

I passed by this gate that I’ve never noticed before.

It took me about 45 minutes to reach the foot of the mountain and the waterfall.

There is a different sort of beauty up here. A rugged and wild kind of beauty.

I spent a little bit of time listening to the powerful sounds of the river and the waterfall and then I slowly made my way back home.

There is a fence along the way that I always look forward to seeing because it changes with the seasons.

I’ll leave you with a photo of it….

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Blogging

Blossoms

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I believe I am correct to say that these were the first blossoms to emerge in the neighborhood!

As the spring draws near and the first shoots poke bits of green through sleeping earth and dry branches begin to show signs of life- I start to keep a keen eye on the old sakura across the street.

I know which branch will begin to flower first. I know this because I have been watching this tree now for over six years.

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It’s always the same branch that hangs over the stone stairs that are now almost buried under rotted leaves. Since Mrs. K passed away no one sweeps the stairs anymore. I’ve never seen any of her family since the day they came and carted off all her possessions.

When she was alive she too watched the tree. She used to stand on the stairs peering up into the branches, calculating the days when the first blossoms might emerge.

Without really thinking about it, I’ve taken over for her. As I stood on the top most step the other day taking these photos I thought of her.

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Next Sunday we will have our Hanami party. My inlaws are uber excited! I am so happy that we can do this for them. They can’t really do all the things they used to but as a family we try our best to help them enjoy things to the best of their ability. Fortunately our engawa faces the sakura tree so even if it rains-the party will go on!

Today was rainy, cold and quite miserable but looking at the forecast tomorrow and onward it looks as though perhaps spring blew in today with the thunderstorms. I see the temps are in the 60’s and 70’s for the week. I expect the garden will take off now.

As a matter of fact, I think I better get the potato sacks ready. It appears, according to my last year’s garden diary, that I’m late to get my potatoes in. Maybe that’s okay because it seems everything is a bit behind this year anyhow. At any rate-I’d better plan on doing that this week.

I saw the komatsuna, spinach and carrots have sprouted when I peeked at the garden this morning-before the thunderstorms moved in.

We’ve already eaten several salads from our lettuce.  Looking forward to the weeks to come! Grow garden grow!