On Sunday it rains all day – it is the Rainy Season after all. There are some compensations though, like bright blue hydrangeas and misty tree-covered hills.
Monday starts fresh but works up into sweltering heat. In late afternoon we have a blue sky again.
The rice fields are beautiful in the golden sun of a late summer afternoon.
Min. temp. 15°C, max. 26°C
The rain stops on saturday and Sunday is hot with a bit of sun between the clouds.
We pick some “ume”. Every year this job comes round in the middle of the wet season and it can be thoroughly unpleasant, but today it’s quite dry. Don’t speak too soon, but are there fewer leeches this year? I haven’t seen any since May – did that hail get them?
Mutton curry for dinner. The light Italian red we picked up in the supermarket goes surprisingly well with it.
Put some of the ume in bottles with rock sugar and 35% “white liquor” to make “umeshu”. Actually there’s still some that was made in 2004 so we’re fairly well stocked.
Dry maybe, but sultry is the word – no rain but really humid and hot, though by late afternoon it’s pleasant. Anyway the plants – chillies, goya and turmeric – all seem to be enjoying it.
T finds a new way of making tea – just using the microwave! It turns out quite drinkable.
Min. temp. 16°C, max. 28°C
The end of “Tsuyu” often brings heavy rain and they’re getting severe floods in Kyushu – 800mm in three days! That’s nearly a metre of water!
We set off from Nagoya in the usual humid heat with a bit of sun, but there’s a dark wall of cloud in front of us that can only mean rain ahead.
The rivers are full of water and decorated with mist, as the moist air meets the cold water.
The ¥100 stall has lots of cucumbers and eggplants – I’ll have to make some pickle.
We arrive to find a snakeskin hanging from the drain by the front door – 1.6m long! There were other visitors while we were away: the deer had eaten all the leaves off the “giboshi” (hosta) in front of the house. We had been looking forward to the pretty blue flowers that were due soon. Deer are becoming an increasing problem everywhere. They are even damaging fisheries in some areas! Stripping the vegetation from mountainsides they increase the run-off of mud into the rivers, and into coastal waters. An ojisan from down the road has been setting some snares – he gets a bounty from the local council but we’ll have to see how many deer he manages to get…
T goes to pick some more ume and comes across a faun in a snare! It looks at her with big sorrowful faun eyes that say “help me”… The ojisan says it’ll be dead tomorrow. He’ll say a prayer and bury it. He has to bury it deep so scavengers don’t dig it up, but he’s got a mechanical shovel.
It starts raining at about 6:00. Did I say something about “sultry” last week? I didn’t know what I was talking about. The humidity is incredible, the earth floors by the entrances are wet, and when you open a cupboard cold air comes out!
The ojisan comes over to pick up and bury the deer. He also, perhaps by way of thanks for letting him set traps on our land, cuts down this tree for us which had been blocking the sun and breeze from the front of the house. It was a big tree and I spend three hours clearing up all the branches and pieces of trunk afterwards.
Min. temp.18 °C, max. 28°C
Summer officially started on Tuesday but our succession of sweltering 35°C days was interrupted by a cold air mass let in by a weak high pressure area. It rained on Saturday and Sunday was still overcast and unusually cool – by the time we got to the house it was only 23° (still good and humid though).
We stock up on more vegetables on the way – we’re living on cucumbers, eggplants and tomatoes.
The drizzle holds off and allows us to eat outside, which is a major compensation for the daytime mugginess.
Lizards in abundance. Our local variety is a rather handsome creature with cream and dark brown stripes tapering off to a bright blue tail.
The clouds thin out on Monday, allowing the sun in to stew us in the humidity.
The chillies are coming on, though some now need staking up and some on the south side of the field have been bitten off at the base of their stem. slugs? insects?
It’s too hot to do much work – finish clearing up big chunks of that tree we had cut down last week, clear up last year’s chilli net and tie up some of this year’s drooping chilli plants.
At about 3:00PM a particularly loud insect chorus starts up with strange stroboscopic effect – a reminder that the peak heat of the day is past.
Min. temp. 19°C, max. 33°C
Hot!! Humid!! There was a heatstroke warning on the radio today – over 50 people have died already. Have to get enough water and salt. It’s peak Summer, but really it should be a bit dryer than this. Our farmhouse floor is still wet at the entrance.
By the stream at the back, a big snake is climbing up a plant stalk on the bank till it bends over towards the other side so he can get at this big fat-bodied spider. The spider notices just in time and seems to get away OK.
Finally get some of the rank weed growth cut down.
An unknown insect. Even after 25 years I still often see new ones – that snake’s spider for example. This place is full of life!
Yamada san drops in for the first time in a while. He’ll bring some //iwana// over at Obon and we’ll have a little barbecue. We try out T’s theory that the hail killed off the leeches, but Yamada says no, he’s seen plenty. We’ve just been lucky.
Monday morning starts out with a nice breeze, but soon gets stuck into the sweltering inferno we’ve come to know, even out here. What will it be like back in Nagoya? We’re leaving early today to hit a beer garden at the top of one of the tallest buildings in town.
On the way back, the rice is already starting to turn yellow in some fields.