Walking the kids to school this morning, I noticed the buds were reddening on the weeping plums we pass on the way--when they bloom, I'll show you.
|Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus|
It was cold this morning--I could see my breath. But it never gets so cold on the Kanto plain that the ground freezes--winter fields are planted with negi and hakusai and daikon (above). Daikon leaves can be put into miso soup, and the large, white root (can you see it in the middle of the picture? It sticks right up out of the ground) can be pickled or simmered or put into Tonjiru. If I forget, remind me to post a (very simple!) recipe for Simmered Daikon. I noticed on Wiki that there is a variety of seed that grows successfully in Southern England, so possibly there's a variety that grows in Canada or the States as well--if you can't get it at an Asian market in your area. Try it if you can get it--it's low in calories (3oz/85g=18kcal), yet filling, and contains 34 percent of the RDA for vitamin C.
|Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis-- Napa cabbage|
...a beautiful hakusai...
...leaves still sparkling with frost...
|Chaenomeles japonica of the family Rosaceae|
It hasn't been too cold here, so the plums and Boke are starting to bloom a little early.
I'd never seen Boke before coming to Japan, so I had to pester people 'til I found out what it was called (boh-kay). Later I discovered that it's a flowering quince, which I'd never seen, but only knew the word form Edward Lear ("they dined on mince and slices of quince").
|Boke can also be grown as bonsai...|
Bushes with red flowers are common, but I love the pink ones... ...white and blush and rose pink all together. Somehow they seem more delicate. Fragile--like my grandmother's Haviland. Pink Flowering Quince would be a lovely china pattern, don't you think?
Stopping to look at this and that, I'd forgotten that I was supposed to return the community center keys--the reason, in fact, for walking this direction back from the school. Forgetful, I suppose, but, well, there you are. I hate to be rushed and have no time to look about me. Right--off you go, up the street.
...It's a smallish temple. The monk and his wife live in attached rooms around back. The cemetery abuts the mountain, up the steps and left around back of the temple. Most mornings the sparrows are there, but this morning I could hear nothing but the Hiyodori squeeling--hooligans that they are ;-))
Somebody had had enough, I expect, and went to sit by himself in the now leafless gingko tree, ruffed head feathers just visible among the sheaths from which next spring's leaves will sprout. I remember full well the first time I heard Hiyodori--I listened for a good twenty minutes to raucous squeeling, unable to ascertain whether it was actually a bird I was hearing, or kids squeeling their car tires in the distance, or a large rubber something slowly deflating. Hiyodori are an extremely common bird in Japan and East Asia, but unknown in North America, which must explain my utter inability to determine that I was, in fact, hearing a bird. I'd never heard *anything* like the ruckus they made.
|Gibt geheimen Sinn zu kosten, Wie's den Wissenden erbaut...|
Forgive me for possibly boring you with another ginkgo photo--I love them so much, I tend to assume everybody else must love them as well and want to look at them as much as I do. If that's not the case, I must beg your patience.
I first remember seeing ginkgos regularly in college--my university had several scattered about the campus, and two large ones in the old crescent area of the campus. The two big ones were male and female, and extraordinarily stinky in the fall when the seed fruits ripened and fell to the ground. I didn't know 'til then that trees came like that--in two sexes, I mean.
A number of years later, after I became a German teacher, I traveled back to Germany--to Jena and Weimar, in fact, where Goethe lived in his middle years. There I discovered that Goethe, too, was fascinated by Ginkgos--and suddenly the cardboard-cutout literary genius,whose Faust I'd struggled to read bits of, became a real person. An interesting person--a person I suddenly wished I could know and talk to. I read Italienische Reise and learned how many different things he was interested in, how he studied geology, optics, biology--climbed Vesuvius, formulated a theory on optics, and hypothesized that Ginkgo Biloba represented the Urbaum (the "original tree", from whence all other species had sprung) many years before Darwin's Origin of Species. Many years, in fact, before fossils recognizably related to the modern tree were found and dated to the Permian (the Permian! 270 million years ago!). A living fossil. That just sends shivers up and down.
Goethe wrote a poem to his girlfriend, Marianne von Willemer, about the Ginkgo (click on the link in the caption above for the original German and several translations), attaching two leaves to the bottom of the page. This was roughly around the time that Ginkgos were re-introduced to Europe from China, hence (I assume) the exotic fascination they held for Goethe, and the poem's inclusion in the West-oestlichen Divan anthology.
...(end of digression)...
So if you're out and about, and you hear somebody squeeling "Hiiiii-yo! Hiiii-yo! Hiiii-yo!", rather like letting the air slowly out of a balloon, it's the Brown-Eared Bulbul. See his brown "ears" (the brown patches on his cheeks)?
...All that noisy-noisy and scruffy feathers sticking up all over his head--what a scalawag...:-))
(p.s.--You know, Goethe gave poor Marianne that romantic poem on the occasion of their last meeting--he never saw her again after that day in Heidelberg. What a scalawag ;-))