Sunday, January 24, 2010


Today I planted a yamamomo (Myrica rubra) on the site where there compost used to be. This is an evergreen tree that grows quite large, and so hopefully it will screen off the garden from the footpath that passes further up the hill. It also produces strange red fruit. These aren't terribly pleasant to eat fresh, but my mother in law makes a very nice drink by soaking them in cheap brandy. Most medicinal it is. The fruit should also serve quite well as jam. For those who are interested in such things, the type is 'Moriguchi', whatever the hell difference that makes.

The missus has said that our (my) garden looks like a 'shizai okiba', that is, a scrap yard or lumber yard. The description is not without justice, and I've felt the same thing myself. But it hurts to hear it out loud. Today, though, with a small fruit tree where the compost used to sit, visible to one and all from the front gate, and with a naturalistic stone wall where there was originally a very scruffy agglomeration of lumber and bamboo, I can't help feeling that things have been tidied up considerably. One of these fine days I feel I might challenge the missus to look out the window and see if she can still say that it looks like builder's merchant's.

I'm hoping that the yamamomo feels blessed, sited as it is on a one-time compost enclosure.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

What I did over New Year

The young master is studying hard for his junior high school entrance exams and so this New Year, we didn't go anywhere or 'do' anything. However, I was not idle.

Here's what I did.

I finished my bamboo fence, with two styles.

Since this involved visits to the bamboo grove, I felt compelled to tidy things up in there.

Dead wood everywhere, stifling new growth.

Room for new shoots in the spring.
It's actually possible to see from one end of the grove to the other now.

I went to the local sake brewery, Yuki Suzume and bought a bottle of junmaishu of which I drank quantities, warmed in the microwave.

All full of sake, I photographed the moon on New Year's eve.

I built a stone wall to replace the untidy wooden rows I put up in a hurry to stabilize the soil when we first moved in.

I liquidated the compost piles as backfill in the new wall. The compost piles were also situated in haste when we moved in, and they weren't put in a very good place.

I built a new compost enclosure on an old raised bed and filled it up with the remains of the summer vegetables (tomatoes and eggplants).

All of this manual labour took a toll on my hands which are now as rough as sandpaper and covered in cuts and purple blotches. At these times I'm reminded of the film The Killing Fields where the horrible Khmer Rouge felt people's hands to see if they were labourers, killing those who weren't. I wonder if I'd pass, or have to claim that I was a taxi driver. Handling stones dries out the skin wonderfully, and touching bamboo cuts it to ribbons and implants little splinters that must be dug out. Still, the physical tiredness at the end of the day feels very good compared with intellectual labour. If only it were as remunerative...