Aah… it’s been a long hot summer so far, and August has only just started. Meanwhile we’ve been going up to our country place most weekends coping with the damp, leeches and wild animals trying to eat the things we grow, but totally failing to record all the fascinating details. Now an attempt to start catching up a bit:
29th ~ 30th May
- Typhoon Number Two. The first to have an effect here and it’s very early – usually they don’t come near mainland Japan till August or so. If you watch CNN or BBC news or something you’ll hear these storms referred to by names, like hurricanes, but here they only have numbers. Bit dull, but anyway the combination of typhoon #2 and a cold front means rain!.
- All this means huge quantities of warm moist air coming up from the south, while inside the house it’s still cool and dry from last week so we don’t open the windows.
- No speed police on duty – they only come out when the weather’s nice.
- Yamada san came over for a drink. He’s an old friend of Nakai san, the previous owner of our house, and his place was where we enjoyed that cold sake… He brought round Hasegawa san who keeps cows for “Hida beef”. (I wonder if he’s still doing OK with all this radioactivity scare?) Anyway a most pleasant evening.
- T picked more tea. We’ve got enough bushes and most go pretty well neglected, but lately we’ve been drinking T’s home-made stuff and it’s not bad really.
- Monday was fresh and clear, and a nice breeze blew through the house.
- Work! Everything seems to be behind, and the chilli field is late while the seedlings in Nagoya are getting impatient to be planted out.
- Min. temp. 10°C max. 22°C
5th ~ 6th June
- More damp and sticky weather in Nagoya and when we got out to Gifu it was damp and sticky there too. That evening it rained, which might have wrung some of the water out of the atmosphere because…
- I was woken by the uguisu to a beautiful clear Monday morning. Perfect. So the uguisu hadn’t completely abandoned us!
- Work! Being away a bit in the spring, combined with my general indolence, has meant everything is behind. Every time it rains the weeds grow another foot or so, but with the chilli field to dig up there’s been no time to get the cutter out.
- Leech paranoia. These are a new addition to the wildlife – even the local people have no experience with them and get nasty bites. Apparently they have been brought down from the hills by the deer and wild boar. It’s hard to concentrate on your work when any moment there might be a small dark brown worm-like creature getting ready to suck the blood out of your arm or leg. You don’t feel a thing at the time because they inject some kind of anaesthetic, but afterwards it can swell up and get really itchy for a week or more. T heard that tobacco water can help keep them off, so she collects old cigarette ends at Raffles to make our own leech repellent. I’m not quite sure how well it works though.
- The deer ate all the flowers off the hydrangea bush behind the house. T was not best pleased.
- Min. temp. 10°C max. 25°C
12th ~ 13th June
- Sunday was wet and oddly chilly, so I got some digging done.
- Saw our first snake of the year. We’re not exactly infested with them, but there are some around. Mostly harmless though…
- Monday was hot, humid and… busy again, digging, planting out the first chilli seedlings and putting up some provisional nets to keep the deer off them.
- More leech paranoia. Check your Wellington boots.
- Another brief visit by the uguisu.
- Min. temp. 13°C max. 25°C
19th ~ 20th June
- Humid and sticky in Nagoya (of course!) but pleasantly cool in the hills, and still dry inside the house. It got wet on the floor on Monday though from the damp air we let in.
- The uguisu was waiting to welcome us but didn’t stay around very long. It came back on Monday afternoon, so I suppose it must have nested somewhere in the area, but not as close as usual.
- The heavy humid air carries the sweet smell of some blossom somewhere.
- The chillies I planted last week are OK (phew!) and I quickly put up some proper deer nets – three metres high they have to be.
- Around midday on Monday it rained, and something started quacking. I’ve never seen a duck around here, maybe it’s a frog? Half an hour later it turns out to be a crow, sitting on the power line opposite, still quacking. What does it mean? I keep meaning to look into the language of crows.
- Finally got the rest of the chillies planted out amid mud and leeches. Ugh! Have I mentioned that this isn’t my favourite season of the year?
- The mighty task of hacking down the jungle of weeds still remains.
- Min. temp. 11°C max. 24°C
26th ~ 27th June
- Another cloudy hot humid Sunday in Nagoya, but nice and cool in Gifu, with a bit of rain.
- The chillies are surviving.
- Finally got the weed cutter out, to find that it wouldn’t start.Hmm… dug the manual out from a shelf in the store cupboard, cleaned the spark plug – no good, cleaned the filthy piece of plastic sponge that passes for an air filter – ah that did it!! On reflection it must be quite a while since that had any attention – I think I was afraid taking it out of the carburetor would make it disintegrate, but it survived being carefully dipped in petrol and wrung out. Now the little engine needs a quite different choke setting from before, but it seems quite lively and I could finally cut some weeds! Only a start, but it’s a start.
- No fireflies that night – too early?
- Monday – cloud/sun/rain…
- Humidity! My floor runneth over. Really it’s wet in the kitchen and entrance, but it’s condensation, not groundwater.
- Picked some ume (sort of plum/apricot). This year seems to be a bumper crop. A little tree we brought out from Nagoya ten years ago is now laden with fruit.
- The plastic compost bin got rained on and filled with water. That doesn’t help proper fermentation at all.
- More weedcutting on Monday.
- Paid our local taxes on the way home. It’s not very much at all.
- Min. temp. 18°C max. 29°C (notice how the temperature’s gone up?)