it’s sunday. it’s the winter solstice. we have only 4 days before christmas – i wonder how you’re enjoying this sunday with your family or friends. actually, my brother is going home on christmas day. even for a few weeks before his forthcoming operation, this is good news. as for me, my lazy sunday morning started with pancakes. with no particular reason, this has become my sunday custom for quite a long time, though i don’t exactly remember since when (if a friend or my daughter or son stayed with me, i’d probably make eggs benedict for a change). i usually have pancakes as sunday brunch -- sometimes i’d go for american style blueberry pancakes, or sometimes french style crêpes – its style is totally up to my mood.
in the meantime, when i had a walk in my park last winter, i came across ruby-like berries with heart-shaped leaves in the bush. people seemed to neither notice nor cared about the gems. so i went bramble-hunting in “mon jardin sauvage” on a chilly afternoon. the berries were plenty there, but so tiny. so i could pick only a handful of them. when i came home i washed and cleaned them with extra care, which demanded a finely-executed manoeuvre like doll house making. it was fun, though. i made a spoonful of jam and pancakes: voilà, crêpes au coulis de framboises d’hiver et crème fraîche. it was scrumptious. i relished the wild flavour.
later, i learned that the name of the bramble was “winter berry 冬苺” and sold as “valentine berry”, which represents successful love. as winter berry 冬苺 bears fruit in winter usually around st valentine’s day, some nursery company has named it as their own discretion. just for their business purpose, they have even made up a romantic and trashy story behind: you will win love from someone you are in love with if the plant bears fruits. gee … i don’t really want to call this tiny wild bramble this way. it’s romantic, maybe, but it’s way too commercial. i’m too old to need such make-believe like that.
no matter what it was called i couldn’t help wishing my secret berries to be there for my secret pleasure, rather selfishly. my heart got caught by a little worry as i passed the bush -- would i be seeing the little gems the next winter again? for the matter of that, yes. when i had a walk in the park a couple of days ago, i saw the berries in the bush this winter too, but much fewer than last year somehow. it’s probably because of this year’s long summer and mild winter, i suspect. much as i’d hoped this bramble-hunt would become my personal year-end fun event, it hasn’t happened yet. i think i should wait a little while till they bear more fruits enough to pick a handful of them.
still, there are some other things to happen this time of year. mayu, a friend of mine i met through my work, would come back to japan from london. she did this year, too. on friday, i went into town to see her. like last year, our meeting place was, osaka hilton hotel, whose glass-walled lobby was surrounded by christmassy shop windows outside. we could hardly content ourselves with some 2.5-hour chat but managed to update each other’s news. i saw her off near the station when she headed back for her home town in okayama. mayu is staying with her mother over the weekend and this monday she’s flying back to london where her english husband awaiting her. she’s now got her own “home sweet home” there.
in japan, we don’t have christmas religiously -- it’s not even a national holiday -- but we do have it customarily (just for kids and the young especially for lovers). we in fact are not alone, it seems. i’ve found religiously diverse fun-loving new yorkers on the street (by bill cunningham) hilarious! but, rather than christmas, most japanese are preparing our new year celebration, which is just like christmas. it is the day for family and togetherness (or stress?). by the way, i’d spent most of chrismas days being all on my own since i got divorced because my kids would join their grand parents. oh, don’t pity me, please. i loved those real silent days and nights, listening to the radio. i’ve been with my mother these years for christmas and am going to cook for her this year, too.
these pics of the aurora borealis (on the guardian) are absolutely gorgeous. luckily, i’ve seen real one once from the window during my flight from tokyo to paris via anchorage. it was decades ago and it wasn’t as clear as i wished, however. anyway, carry on having lots of fun, everyone!