Monday, May 04, 2009

A Memoir Through Seasons

There are ducks nesting in our back alley. Daily, when I visit them, they look just as confused as the last time: "Hey, someone found us", as they aimlessly waddle a bit aways until I shut the door. I have a co-worker who tells me look but don't touch and it is good advice for me.
But, Ducks! Come on. As the spring and summer progress I will settle more into pssshh, ducks, seen 'em, but for now their nesting is the newest evidence that we're entering a new season and we haven't seen ducks for a few months.
It, and my re-discovery of bugs last week (oh yeah, BUGS! THOSE Guys), reminded me to re-read a book that I loved last year: East Wind Melts the Ice by Liza Dalby. Liza Dalby is a fascinating woman in her own right; she is the first western woman to live and work as a geisha in Japan, collecting her geisha exploits in one of my favorite books, Geisha. She is absolutely in love with Japan and her love is infectious. In East Wind Melts the Ice, Dalby writes throughout a year, with exquisite detail to the changes in nature and the way they weave into the shape of her life.
From her preface:
"One of the things I have appreciated most during my long association with Japan is the attention the Japanese pay to the ephemeral yet steadfastly recurring phenomena of the natural world. Japanese culture is so deeply steeped in this awareness that even canned drinks in vending machines change from summer to fall. The entire Japanese poetic tradition is grounded in the observance of the passing of the seasons, and it is quite simply second nature for Japanese to view human emotions through seasonal metaphors"

I am not doing this book justice in my blurbiness, or the fact that I have followed the book-trailings of this lady for a long time, but the ducks (and the bugs) reminded me of the 72 stages of the seasons that span a year in Dalby's book; the way that the seasons change is sometimes imperceptible, new evidence arriving as frequently as every 5 days. But it reminds you that there are far more than 4 ways to cut a year.


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