Shichijuni-kou (72 Seasons) Calendar Listing
仲春, Chushun: "Mid-spring"
Season No. 3: 啓蟄, Keichitsu:
"Hibernating Insects Awaken"
|A busy ladybird beetle inspects a sprig of new mugwort.|
Climate No. 7: 蟄虫啓戸,
Sugomorimushi To Wo Hiraku:
" Insects Begin to Emerge"
|Mosquitoes swarm outside my window (Shiga Prefecture)|
There's one thing I can offer-
Small mosquitoes." -Matsuo Basho
Yesterday, as I sat in an office lobby with a smartphone in one hand and a squished mosquito in the other, I noticed a seasonally appropriate photo uploaded from my host father in Chiba. While rotating his rice field in preparation for spring flooding, his tractor had safely unearthed a sleepy little frog all bug-eyed and covered in smooth, silky mud. Despite cold morning temperatures still hovering around 0C throughout much of Japan, life still finds a way to push itself through into the daylight. What never fails to mystify me is the timing of nature, how the frogs know to wake up when their food (mosquitoes) is hatching from freshly melted waters, or how the birds know it's time to prepare nests for their growing families. It's astonishing! And yet, I recognize in myself the same instinct to press on.
Taste of the Season: 鰆, Sawara, Japanese Spanish Mackerel
Also known as seerfish, the sawara (Scomberomorus niphonius) is a regional specialty of prefectures lining the aquamarine waters of the Seto Inland Sea. The Chinese character for sawara means "fish of spring," and this species of true mackerel has long been associated with this season of emerging wildlife. I was lucky enough to be served at my place of work a nice couple chunks of this delicious fish in season, salt-grilled and drizzled with a spoonful of nutty, savory sesame seed sauce.
|Grilled sawara from the Seto Inland Sea, served with sesame sauce and mixed vegetables.|
I say "lucky" because this delectable fish is actually in risk of being labeled a threatened species in my region (but plentiful elsewhere in east Asia). I had no idea that the Japanese Spanish mackerel fishery of the Seto Inland Sea had even collapsed at one time, as this IUCN Red List report suggests. Efforts to revive this particular fishery must have been met with some success, otherwise a sawara wouldn't have made its way onto my lunch plate and those of my coworkers.
It was unsettling to learn that by eating my lunch, I was unwillingly participating in the Seto sawara stocks' demise. Perhaps only recently, the chance to enjoy a bite of this fish from this part of the world might've only been a privilege for Japan's elite or some super fortunate fisherman who caught one on a line.
|Seto Inland Sea Sunset (Kure, Hiroshima)|
|Hubby helping a farmer bring in his early spring carrot crops. (Taga Town, Shiga)|
|Hubby's ample payment for his labor (and boy were they ever GOOD!)|
May we all learn to support and protect our local farmers and fisheries, and may each season be a season of gratitude and thanksgiving. From now on, I pledge to become more aware of where my food comes from.
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