Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Waiting on spring

While the much anticipated blooming of cherry blossoms has begun in many parts of the archipelago, here in the Kiso Valley we continue to wait for spring to come. Winter breaks late here in the mountains, usually only after a long bout with the forces of spring—a warm day may be followed by a snowstorm, while a frosty night might give way to a scorching noon-day sun. Care must be taken so that one's body does not succumb to the swings in temperature. . .layered clothing is a must.

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.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Whiling the winter away

It's been a slow winter. . .not getting a lot done. Aki and I have both been working at Otaki's ski hill, Ontake 2240--me as a lift operator and Aki at a restaurant. Not the greatest work, but we both only work weekends and get free season passes, which leaves plenty of time for playing on the slopes.

I've also been working on a paper idea for this year's American Anthropological Association meetings in Philadelphia. My interest is in exploring the idea of "socio-ecological resilience", which I've mentioned in other posts, in terms of its socio-political implications as a device for inclusive and equitable forest management. Not a lot to say about it now--still too early in my thinking--but will post as things come together.

For now, back to the slopes.


Happy death day to Cactus Ed.
March 14th, 1989