Wednesday, July 16, 2014

32. 蓮始開: "Lotuses Bloom"

(BGM: "Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo" by Farida Khanum)

Shichijuni-kou (72 Seasons) Calendar Listing 
 晩夏, Banka: "Late Summer"
Season No. 11: 小暑: Shousho
"Minor Heat" 

Typhoon Neoguri raised a ruckus in the southern prefectures, causing an evacuation advisory for nearly half a million people in Okinawa, alone! For the Chugoku region, instead of landslides and flooding, we got hit with a wall of stifling, oppressive humidity that lingered for several days and then subsided. Working in polyester business wear without an air conditioner feels like wearing plastic bags for clothes. The body screams to breathe!

But this is only the beginning. We may think it's hot now, but this merciful time of "minor heat" is our only chance to adapt before the sun's burners are set to "high" come August and September. Getting enough minerals and fluids, dressing in light, moisture-wicking fabrics and eating cool, watery foods help the body acclimate more easily. But perhaps the best way to deal with the heat is to get into the cool shade under a mountain forest canopy, or take a dip in the shimmering sea. The season of "minor heat" is a time for play!

Climate No. 32: 蓮始開
Hasu Hajimete Hiraku
"Lotuses Bloom"
(July 12 -July 16) 

Splendid lotuses soaking up the fresh rain. (Okubiwa Sports No Mori, Nagahama, Shiga)

Flower Of The Season: 蓮, Hasu, Sacred Lotus

"Lotus pond
   As they were unplucked
     Soul's Festival."  
                     -Matsuo Basho

"Reserve" (c) Genkilee, Gen 2012 All Rights Reserved.
I have a special fondness for this sacred flower. Perhaps I've been heavily influenced in my thinking by Oriental philosophies while living here in Asia. But any lifeform that starts its existence in mud and blossoms to become the throne of gods has my immediate respect.

Straight out of a Kangra-style miniature painting! (Okubiwa Sports No Mori Park) (c) Genkilee, Gen 2012 All Rights Reserved
Everything about the lotus astounds me: from its no-apologies bigness to its sweet, rose-meets-lily fragrance to the way its leaves and blossoms hover over the water like island bungalows. The broad, circular leaves are so wide and rubbery that when raindrops beat down upon them, they resonate a deep "thump" like a hand drum. During a light drizzle, the rhythm they produce is hypnotizing.

Pink, pendulous orbs for blossoms sway back and forth in the gentle breeze, perfectly balanced on slender stalks. This lovely plant well deserves lengthy contemplation.

Critter Of The Season: 蝶々, Chouchou, Butterflies

The plump, rippling caterpillars of spring have all wriggled out of their casings and spread their new wings to air-dry in the hot summer sun. Clever opportunists, these insects take full advantage of every second between summer storms, sucking up nectar and mercilessly chasing prospective partners. We naive humans might behold a butterfly and feel a sense of calm serenity, inspired by their kaleidoscopic beauty. But watching their behavior, it's easy to understand how harsh and dangerous their short lives really are. Dodging hungry birds, staying out of spider webs and and steering clear of zooming cars like ours, no matter how much modern society idealizes the butterfly's metamorphosis, I'm glad I don't have their life. Mine's busy, enough.

Nonetheless, I love it when they flit and flutter into my path. It's always a joy and a challenge to try to sneak up on a butterfly and capture their shimmering, myriad colors, stalking them as quietly as I can before they get spooked and fly off. Our best luck has always been on mountainsides in the sunshine. Here are a few of my mid-summer favorites:

1. Great Purple Emperor (大紫, Oh-Murasaki

A Sasakia charonda fresh out of its cocoon (Miyoshi, Tokushima).

2. Mellicta ambigua (コヒョモンモドキ, Ko-hyomon Modoki)

A Mellicta ambigua couple mate atop Mt. Noro (Kure, Hiroshima) (c) Genkilee, Gen via Oppa 2014, All Rights Reserved
3. Small Copper (ベニシジミ, Benishijimi)

A tiny and richly-colored Lycaena phlaeas on a dandelion (Sera, Hiroshima). (c) Gen, Genkilee 2014 All Rights Reserved
 4. Chestnut Tiger (アサギマダラ, Asagi Madara)

A Parantica sita in July milkweed (Iwakuni, Yamaguchi). (c) Genkilee, Gen 2013 All Rights Reserved
 5. Alpine Black Swallowtail (ミヤマカラスアゲハ, Miyama-Karasu Ageha)

A Papilio maackii female flashing hidden colors (Hikone, Shiga).
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. 

No comments:

Post a Comment