Spring lifts our spirits. It is birth of a new year. It's a time for Nature to show her positive colours, as well as bring us back to life after a gloomy, cold season. My experience takes place in Mito, Ibaraki, at Lake Senba, or Senba-ko. It is located right next to Kairaku Park, Kairaku-en, which is on the list of largest gardens in Japan, and famous for its near 10,000 plum trees that flower in early March. I am fortunate to have it all outside my backyard, and take advantage of the walking paths daily to keep in shape. Spring is the most enjoyable season for it.
Welcoming spring in Japan is to celebrate the cherry blossom phenomenon, or sakura. In full-bloom, the flowers almost look like snowball puffs stuck to the tops and making the trees appear to be something from a fairytale, especially when the petals start to fall with the breeze, it looks as if it is indeed snowing. These flowers are a sure sign of Spring; a true sight of Japan. When you open your eyes to Nature, you see more than just what you are looking at. Tonight I was able to experience its many aspects, and it all started with that sunset.
First, why did I bring my camera on my daily walk? I see the same trees and swans everyday, but yesterday was different. Overnight, the wildlife seemed to just flourish.
At the edge of the small lake, I saw some new black swans very recently born, as well as beds of colourful tulips, daffodils, and daisies. The flowers were pretty and cute, but the cygnets were just so adorable. The little sound they make, like a squeaky toy, only way softer. Their cute little round heads, and the way they wobble, and snuggle next to their mom, and play nudging with dad. Its like therapy that works! And, yes, the flowers were a pleasing sight too!
I know my friends and family in Canada would want to know about my neighbourhood; that it is not all concrete and robots, and that there is much nature to be experienced here in Japan.
Land of the Rising Sun
Bright and massive over the horizon, it is a marvel to see the sun rise on the East coast of Japan. Closest to Mito would be the Oarai coast in Hitachinaka. Though, to watch it set is equally, and in my opinion more, noteworthy.
After the beautiful pink sunset, I went along the edge of the lake looking for the three little babies I'd seen yesterday. When I discovered the empty nest, I presumed they must have gone for a swim. While taking a few more snapshots of the sunset, I was interrupted by a high pitch “quacking” or “kwaking” going on for some time. So, I turn around to see two black swans wrestling, clearly very angry with each other. I go to get a shot of the spectacle, only to find four of them seemingly swimming in circles. Then, the babies! Awe, there they are - so cute! As I moved closer, it all became clear. One of the little guys was stuck – wedged between two slabs of concrete near the filtration system. I tried to get near but the mother was ever so vicious! I mean she thought she could really kill me, and would have been willing to die herself defending her little one. She wouldn't allow me to get close, so I sumimasen-ed an older man sitting on the bench wondering what I was doing. “Excuse me...um, the baby can't move, and mother is extremely angry!”
He helped me, shooed the mother away with an effort, and I was able to get in there and push the little thing's bum out of the gap. Oh, it was stuck in there good and I really hope he was not injured, but at least he is alive and swimming!
Mr. Yamada and I helped each other up out of the steep bank. We chatted, brokenly, trying hard to follow in the other's language, for the while we walked along the path together. Turns out he had been an English teacher many years ago, and knew a little bit about Canada as well. He seemed more curious about me though with all of his questions, but I was happy to try and answer best I could. We went on our ways, not before seeing the next impressive sight in the sky.
Coincidentally, just before I left for my walk, I had seen an article about the rising of the Blood Moon. I didn't read in detail, only that it could be viewed in April 15th's sky. After seeing what looked like a blood sun, I see this, almost as if the sun had risen on the other horizon thirty minutes later! Ironically too, so many bats were flying overhead almost within my personal space, though surprsingly didn't faze me in the least. This Blood Moon is supposedly the first of a series of four. There are many interesting astronomical, even Biblical, references to it on the web.
In Spring, we come out of our shelters and become more physically active, even social. Things don't make us, Nature does, and it keeps us going. It's not difficult to see. I am positive that all of us have a little piece of nature in our own respective neighbourhoods. Somewhere we can go to be reminded why natural life is so important; because we thrive off of it! Personally, I am happy that baby birds and colourful flowers can put a smile on my face, and I am glad that I loathe shopping! I love the sight of the sun and moon in their given stages. I strive for my life to have a minimal amount of “things”, and be abundant with simple reality – at one with Nature.
We tend to appreciate events more when they were not intended, so go without a plan. Enjoy the simple things in life, and what your neighbourhood has to offer...for free!
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