Season's Change


花鳥風月 (Kachou Fuugetsu) Literally: Flower, Bird, Wind, Moon
Meaning: Experience the beauties of nature, and in doing so, learn about yourself.

One of the fun things about moving from state to state or country is discovering the seasons, and as the quote above says, learn something about yourself.  For me, it's remembering some great things about my childhood and finding beauty in my current surroundings.  

I grew up a time in Kentucky on a farm, and I never dreamed that the farming life would come in handy many years later.  I have many fond memories of growing up "organic" before organic was cool.  I am thankful for the many life lessons I learned on the farm and am now utilizing some of that training while living in Japan.

Okinawa is a subtropical island, and if you don't get out and explore or walk the streets of the village, you might just miss the change of season.  I live in Yomitan, a village located on the West coast of central Okinawa, bordered by Onna Village to the North, Okinawa City to the East, Kadena Town to the South, and the East China Sea is to the West.

My research says the biggest cash crop of Yomitan is the chrysanthemum, which is grown in the "winter" here then followed by sugarcane and pigs.  Now I have not seen pigs, but I may go on a search for them.

Another crop found in Yomitan is the Beni imo or the purple sweet potato.  Yomitan promotes itself as the "beni imo hometown" and holds a festival celebrating this and crowns a yearly Miss Beni Imo.  The crop is not necessarily grown for its cash value but for the important role in folklore, culture, and the local tourism industry. You can find many purple-colored desserts through Okinawa made with this potato. 

In Japan, if you shop and live in the local culture, you eat and use what is in season.  Basil is not readily available all year long, neither is lettuce, etc... NOW yes, I can go to the commissary and pay $6 for lettuce and usually find an item I can't in town, but I prefer to eat and live in my community as my neighbors do as much as I can.  So how does farm life apply to me? It brings back some great memories of my childhood hood, and those farm life lessons are coming in handy and opened some cool conversations with my child.  I have started freezing or preserving some of my favorite items that are not always available throughout the year. I have a small potted garden with eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers.

I see the fields starting to be turned over for new crops, and sugarcane is being harvested on my recent walks.  Facts about sugarcane: it is particularly suited to cultivation in Okinawa, it does not require significant irrigation, it grows well in Okinawa's soil, and can be left unattended for 18 months until harvest.  More than you needed to know....

I love that after 4 months, I can start to see the most minute changes of the season.  I do not follow a certain path for my walks; I just twist and turn and take the road where it leads me, and on most days, I am drawn to take a picture of the local beauty found in Yomitan. Sometimes it's an empty field, flowers or buildings.   If you don't look closely and pay attention, you may not even know the season changing. Sometimes the signs of change are minuet and around the corner where you don't expect it.

Take a moment to lift your head from your devices and take a deep breath and enjoy your surrounding! 


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