winter and spring. maybe, both seasons are here, sharing, fighting otherwise, at the moment. people in the western part of japan recognised 春一番 haru ichiban (the first gale of spring) last weekend. i was right in not holding my breath, however. we’ve had chilly days and only a few sunny days lately. according to the weather forecast, there seem to be more rainy or cloudy days this week as well. on friday, i went out to my park as soon as the rain stopped. the wind was wintry while the light was somewhat different from the one i felt a week ago or so. naturally, the flora and fauna of the park did know of its difference better than i did.
there is a 梅 woomei (prunus mume known as japanese apricot or chinese plum) orchard in the park. it’s been getting popular and popular for locals as a 梅見 woomei-mi (梅 blossom-viewing picnic) spot over the last couple of years. 梅見 is in fact much less familiar than 花見 hana-mi (桜 cherry blossom-viewing picnic). but, 梅 blossom is more fragrant than 桜 blossom indeed, so you might swoon. i was planning, or hoping, to picnic some time between late this month and early march just like i did twice last year: one with my mother and another with daughter during her stay. we enjoyed our packed lunch and a tiny glass of 梅酒 woomei-shu (ume liquor) under the 梅 blossoms.
it was quite 風流 hooryu (sort of -- characteristically japanese taste and a traditionally poetic manner for appreciating the nature) and i liked it. 梅 blossom is a symbol of spring for 俳句 haiku & 和歌 waka (japanese poetry). it is not just a pretty face, though. it’s a tough beauty since it blooms even in the snow; it bears a versatile fruit for cooking. but, then again, i’ve already realised the 梅 blossoms in my park came out much earlier than last year. this year’s best 梅 season is going. it’s been too chilly to take a picnic there. apparently, i am missing an opportunity to go on a 梅見 this year. however, there were a party who immersed themselves in feasting among the 梅 trees in the orchard.
they were intoxicated メジロ mejiro (japanese white-eyes). they were flying from tree to tree sucking 梅 nectar frantically even though i stood pretty close to them. they’d escape me, stay away from noisy people, usually. when it came to 梅 season, they appeared to get carried away, no time for caution, which looked funny to me and made me smile -- alright then, little birds, i’d willingly give up my picnic for you all! even so, i had great fun just viewing the blossoms. i left the orchard and walked along the path. then i stopped to check with the place where hellebores (known as christmas roses) were planted. they also came into bloom at once.
i noticed many bird-watchers holding their digital cameras with “grand and long” telephoto lens. i was jealous. i took a different path from my usual one for a change. a flowerbed of 葉牡丹 habotan (ornamental cabbages), which i had passed by before, caught my eye. as 葉牡丹 was not among my favourites, i had always ignored them. the ruffled leaves appeared in subtle pastel shades. i was captivated by them for the first time. the rain had washed every leaf earlier on so that they could stand out, looking as pristine as ones on a flower show. i should’ve approved of its hidden beauty from the very first, shouldn't i? i felt like apologising to them.
back home, meanwhile, i found the first flower of a hyacinth in my living room sprang into bloom.
and now there've been a lot more – almost in full bloom since then. i love its scent as much as the aroma of coffee on a sunday morning.