|William this morning before the dining room |
warmed up. It was nippy 3˚, hence the tuque and blanket
For me, the worst part of winter here is not feeling constantly chilly, but feeling confined to small areas of your house. The children roam, open doors, and inevitably want to play in the room that is not currently being heated. Half of my day is spent saying "shut that door behind you! You're letting cold air!". By the time spring rolls around we all have an intense case of cabin fever from being cooped up in one small room most of the time. I am pretty sure that I will never get used this aspect of winter in Japan.
There are a few things that make winter lovely as well. It rarely snows where we are and usually hovers around 1˚ C or so. This means that we can actually spend time outside every day in the winter, go for bike rides, and enjoy the neighbourhood parks without fear of exposure and frost bite. You can grow hardy vegetables even in the winter and there are plants that even bloom in January. Coming from a place that is dead and sterile for at least 1/3 of the year I still haven't gotten over how amazing this is!
Last year around Christmas I noticed a shrub which I had never encountered before, the wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox), or ロウバイin Japanese. It quickly has become my favourite flowering shrub and I really looked forward to its blooming this winter. In our area of Japan at least, it blooms throughout January and February and has the most amazing jasmine like smell. The blossoms begin as little yellow balls and open into yellow multi-petaled pendent flowers that last for quite a few weeks. Some trees are so densely covered in them that it looks like there is buttered popcorn popping off of their branches. You can't help but notice their wonderful scent whenever you pass by one and if you are anything like me, you will stop and inhale deeply for a few seconds before moving on.
Sweet osmanthus (Osmanthus fragrans), or キンモクセイ, is another strongly scented flowering shrub that grows here. Its orange flowers usually open in the autumn but unlike the wintersweet, I find its scent cloying, too sweet, mostly abhorrent. I am willing to admit that I am the odd one out on this because most people I have talked to love the smell of sweet osmanthus. Unfortunately, the osmathus all bloomed in Fukuyama right at the peak of my morning sickness this fall and I could barely stand leaving the house for fear of running into its smell. It seemed like everyone in the city had one growing in their garden. Sometimes I could see the orange flowers while I was still out of scent range so I knew to hold my breath but usually they were hidden behind a wall and I couldn't help but get at least one horrible whiff of them. I hope that I don't forever have an association with extreme queasiness and their smell.
|The bane of my morning sickness|
|These tiny double daffodils are beautiful and|
super fragrant. Love them!
Even with the relative mildness of winter weather here, this winter has seemed extremely long to me. I am sure it has something to do with my crappy pregnancy circulation, but I also have a hunch that this winter has been slightly colder than the last. This theory is completely based on which dates I took pictures of flowers I saw beginning to bloom (yay for photos that are accurately dated!). Last winter I took photos of daffodils blooming in early January, but this year I have only noticed them starting to bloom in the past few days. This week I also spied a plum tree down the street whose buds are beginning to open. Winter can't last forever!