Here in Malta we have distinct seasons – a beautifully long summer, a short, humid winter and a gentle Spring and Autumn. Japan also recognises these four seasons, though because it’s such a ‘long’ country from north to south, they arrive at different times and last for varying periods. So in Okinawa, winter would be characterised by temperatures of about 20oC, whereas in Hokkaido you could expect a long cold spell of temperatures below zero.
But the ancient Japanese calendar also includes 24 sekkis, or ‘small seasons’, which are further divided into 72 micro-seasons. And they are marvellous. More about the rest later, for March 6th is Keichitsu, or ‘going-out of worms’. This is the day, typically, when worms start to be seen above ground again after a long winter hibernation (the length of which depends on where they are- – see above! Those lucky Hokkaido worms must get plenty of rest).
I appreciate that this doesn’t, at first glance, appear to be the most glamorous of seasons. Who, other than a gardener, might find such an event worthy of celebration? Well, me. And hopefully by the end of this post, you, too. But hurry, you don’t have long. Only around a week, in fact.
yōji no gotoku
the bug comes out
of hibernation, infant-like
works its legs
~Midorijo Abe (1886 – 1980)
There’s something quite beautiful about the promise of a new beginning like this. Finally, after a cold and often dark winter of being cooped up indoors, it’s time to start moving back outside. The garden (or terrace, or balcony) begins to come alive once again with a slowly increasing abundance of life. Or, as my new app (72 Seasons) tells me, ‘hibernating creatures open their doors’.
So this is quite a short post. Because as those hibernating creatures open their doors, so do I. If anybody needs me, I shall be on the terrace, planting and prodding and wiping and rearranging. There’s mint to be picked, tomatoes to be sown, and the detritus of winter to be put right.
Enjoy your Keichitsu.