Monday, 20 August 2012

Back on the Farm

We interrupt the travelogue to describe life back in Ibaraki prefecture. I described the beginning of summer in a BLOG entitled "It begins". We left for Hokkaido soon after that where the temperatures could be as much as ten degrees Celsius cooler. So what was waiting for us here was a bit of a shock. Yesterday Monday August 20, 2012 the temperature in the family room climbed to 37°C before we gave in and turned on the room air conditioner. This brought things down to a cool 28°C. The skies are blue, the sun is a furnace and there is no rain on the horizon. I have not seen the "hatake" or fields so dry before.
On Sunday our first full day back we took it easy all day. Shigeko Okano brought us cold tea and "suika" or watermelon grown here on the farm. It was quite delicious and apparently the crows agree with our assessment. Another novelty we have been eating since we got back is the cucumber like "goya" fruit that grows on vines shading the windows from the sun. The plant originates in Okinawa, but can now be seen even in Hokkaido. The green coloured fruit as seen in the photograph has many protrusions on the surface and the taste is quite bitter, but edible. The cucumbers and a bit of corn that we enjoyed prior to the Hokkaido trip is finished. The only thing still producing from three weeks ago are the tomatoes and "nasu" or eggplants.
I always said I wanted to live in a more tropical climate, but now I am not so sure. I am beginning to understand how heat can take away all of ones motivation and ambition. Akio Okano still puts in a days work, but I have drastically changed my schedule. Yesterday and this morning I got up at about 0445h and was at war killing weeds at about 0500h. I work while the sun is coming over the horizon and it already feels hot. This morning I came back before 0700h and walked my buddy Muku. Today one of his girlfriends across the road happened to be "loose" and came walking with us. I don't know how the dogs can stand the heat, but there is nothing they love more than a walk or should we call it a 'sniff around'. Probably the most pronounced clue that summer has arrived is the sound of "semi" or cicadas. We have been told that there are about four varieties of them in Japan and each one has a different song. In fact they are so loud you might think a 'semi'-trailer is about to drive through the house. Muku previously liked nothing more than walking the edges of the "tanbo" or rice fields finding and eating (usually dead) crayfish. Cicadas are quite a large insect and when there tasks are done, they die. Well of course, Muku is not too fussy about what he eats, so now he spends most of his time walking sniffing for cicada carcasses. This morning he almost ignored his girlfriend. Two of the photographs are of cicadas, one just a profile on the tree trunk and the other a colourful one that landed in front of us in preparation for death.
Akio Okano mentioned that this coming Saturday, the town of Edosaki will be putting on a "hanabi" show or fireworks. As mentioned before we are close to ten meters higher than the plains below and can see Edosaki in the distance. Akio noticed that people were already putting in stakes and ribbons to reserve strategic sites for viewing so he decided he had better do the same.

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