Shichijuni-kou (72 Seasons) Calendar Listing
初夏 Shoka: "Early Summer"
Season No. 7: 立夏, Rikka:
"The Start Of Summer"
|A field of azalea hugs a steep mountainside at Chigo Park (Kure, Hiroshima).|
"The Earthworms Emerge"
(May 10 -May 14)
It seems as if the world is on fire. Thousands of acres in the US, Canada and Russia are going up in flames as I write, including my old stomping grounds in Alaska. Unusually warm May temperatures have caused flooding in much of Europe and drought conditions in India. My heart heaves a sigh of great worry.
Yet down here in south central Japan, the skies are blue, calm and forgiving. Any rain that has fallen has been brief and timely. And just as the old Shichijuni-kou calendar predicted, earthworms have chosen this week to crawl out of their earthy beds and risk drying to a crisp in the stinging noon sun.
|A lack-lustre pic of an earthworm. Sometimes, the mundane is good for the soul. (Mihara, Hiroshima)|
By observing the mood of my blogs, one would incorrectly assume that all is fuzzy bunnies and rainbows in my happy little universe. Not so. Sometimes, Mother Nature is a biotch out to get me, and that was the case this past week. With poisonous snakes attacking my ankles, giant centipedes practically falling into my lap and lethal wasps staring me down on remote mountaintops, I was NOT the happiest camper out there. It's a dog-eat-dog world, with mass death and consumption everywhere. And sometimes, Nature is just downright rude!
Bird Of The Season: ホトトギス, Hototogisu, Lesser Cuckoo
When I first moved to the Chugoku region of Japan, I was delighted to have a break away from the ear-piercing screech of Brown-eared Bulbuls -cute but annoying birds that like to crank up the mic as early as 4:30am, when nobody in their right mind would want to get up.
But Mother Nature wouldn't let me off the hook so easily. One late spring night in Hiroshima at 11:00pm, just as I was about to drift off into Dreamland, I heard this repetitive, irritating high-pitched laughter that sounded like giggling, undulating from the forest two streets behind me. I felt the blood boil in my veins as I contemplated which unlucky neighbor child would be blowing his last funny whistle of the night. But when I learned that it was a birdcall and not a prank, my ruffled feathers smoothed down, annoyance melting swiftly into appreciation. The sound was coming from a Lesser Cuckoo (Cuculus poliocephalus)! Somehow, the idea of being kept awake by a playful cuckoo seemed much better than the early morning torture I'd always suffer at the throat of the thoughtless bulbul, who would strategically choose the laundry pole just outside my bedroom window to perch on and annoy me. (Shooing it away never phased it. It would be back the next morning -pooping on my lawn chair just to spite me).
Anyways (ahem), the Lesser Cuckoo has a long claim to fame in Japan, having been deemed the favorite bird of legendary writer Sei Shonagon and more recently, mentioned in the works of my favorite poet to walk the earth:
"Spring rock azaleas
Colored by his tears
Lesser cuckoo." -Matsuo Basho
|A friendly birder from Nagoya spotting cuckoos in Shiga Prefecture.|
|The picturesque home of a lucky Oriental Cuckoo (Ohmi Takayama, Shiga)|
|An Oriental Cuckoo next to a late-blooming plum (Ohmi Takayama, Shiga)|
But if there's anything I've come to understand, it's this: the more you learn about something, the quicker the road to acceptance unscrolls before you. Had I not followed up that night-time birdcall with an Internet search, I never would've discovered the delight of hearing my first cuckoo. Without learning about Huntsman Spiders, I never would've found the brevity to use that bathroom last week with one stuck to the wall right behind me. It all makes for cool stories on social media sites, anyways. And one can never have too many of those.
It really does pay to be patient.
Flower Of The Season: つつじ, Tsutsuji, Azalea (Rhododendron)
|Vibrant azeleas with blossoms over 3 inches wide (Kure, Hiroshima).|
|Black bumble bees immune to the azelea's highly toxic nectar (Kure, Hiroshima).|
But they sure are a feast for the eyes! The azaleas are at their best for several weeks starting in mid-May and rapidly begin to drop to the ground by early June. The farther north you go in Japan, the longer your opportunity to see these gorgeous flowers.
Just be careful out there. The world is a pretty wild place! ;-)
Copyright 2014 Genkilee, Gen. All rights reserved. No part of this blog (written or photo content) may be reproduced or reprinted without the expressed permission of the author.