the october country

amid the gloomier news about the global financial crisis and the food scares of chinese tainted milk and chinese contaminated rice (this case, our fault), the best season has arrived this year, too. with autumn on the way, i am having beautiful days. i’ve noticed that more chirping crickets are gathering in the evening and more maple leaves (not yet japanese maples) in the park are turning vermillion, while i am still wearing a short-sleeve t-shirt and a pair of cropped pants. temperature-wise, it is still summer here. october is generously embracing summer and autumn, possibly due to the global warming, so that we can enjoy both seasons.

in japan, autumn is considered the best appetite season; we rejoice in our harvest time; my mother is growing saffron for me, actually. i’m thrilled to find fresh vegetables and fruits in season aplenty at supermarkets (local greengrocers have almost died out, sadly). a matter of fact, i am a natural born vegetarian (this means a trouble child for a mother) so i could eat neither meat nor fish. but, i was forced to swallow them at school. at the time, children were not allowed to leave any bits of school meal because of the strict japanese discipline of wasting no food. it was kind of a torture for me. later on, my palate for food slowly grew to relish animals as i grew up. i’m even fond of innocent, adorable and gambolling lambs … to eat!

still, i much prefer vegetable to meat or fish. one of wonderful things about being abroad is feasting my eyes on the colourful local produce. of course, they are not only joyful to behold but to taste as well. especially artichokes, beets and parsnips are my personally glorified vegetables. i love their flavour, though a little bit peculiar, and textures whenever and wherever available, whereas they are hardly seen in japan. i miss them a lot. now it could be a sin for anyone to want imported vegetables, when we must consider carbon-food-print. but, i must admit, i was a happy sinner when i had a bunch of unseasonal white asparagus, imported from the philippines, with home-made hollandaise sauce several weeks ago.

i lately realised that october was the month for the nobel prize. the news of three (plus one who is now an american citizen) japanese scientists winning the prizes no doubt brightened up the whole country. every year, frankly, i’d pay little attention to the announcements except for the peace and the literature. this year, the latter prize went to the french writer, jean-marie gustave le clézio. i am ashamed to say, i’d only vaguely heard of his name until last friday. so, out of my curiosity i read a couple of online newspapers’ articles on him. he, being described as a cross-cultural citizen, sounds very interesting. above all, he seems to be a very modest person who has chosen to stay away from the spotlight (his personality is the exact opposite of someone like that “folksyalaskan, ms sarah palin, don’t you think?).

in japan, autumn is also considered the best reading season. if so, i should add something from le clézio’s work to my must-read list, in which there are too many books to read for life, though. in the meantime, october reminds me of a book i read when i was a teen. the october country, the book title itself, invited me to a fantasy world even before reading it. i was captivated by every single short story of the book and became a big fan of the author, ray bradbury. since then, october has become my most favourite and special month. it’s always associated with my sensuous memories of autumn: the aroma of my first apple pie i baked; the sound of the wind blowing outside the house i just moved in together with my fiancé (i was 19); the feel of my new blanket i snuggled down into, and such.

my inner teenager wanders around the october country that still tells and shows anew the ordinary things. i, maybe, could rejuvenate all my sensibility, then.

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