However, despite this small burden, in Otaki the liminal period between winter and spring is a marvelous time. Warmer days draw resident to their fields and gardens to prepare soils for planting. Excursions into the mountains, where the trees still stand skeletal and leafless, allow one to experience the first flourishes of the year's wild vegetable harvest. Fuki-no-toh (butterbur sprout) are the first to arrive; they hide beneath the fallen leaves of the previous year. In the days to come a cornucopia of vegetables will appear in the hills: yama-wasabi, yomogi , zenmai, warabi, toriashi-shouma, tara-no-me, yama-udo, fuki, and on and on.
And eventually, after the lowlands are well on their way to summer, the mountains of Otaki will begin to blush with cherry blossoms. This will be followed by a great swell of green as the forests here come to life in one great rush, eager for the few precious months of warm they are blessed with each year. Until then, all of us—plants, animals, and perhaps especially humans—will wait patiently for the coming of the spring.