Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Green By Beth Kinsella Sakanishi

My sister Beth writes yesterday from Japan: “Still a lot going on, more bad news all the time. We are all just hanging in there, taking each new piece as it comes. Not really able to relax yet. But things better than two months ago.”

A few weeks ago, Beth sent these written images of Japan in the springtime:

“I was out walking today and though this is prime cherry blossom season and many other dark pink, purple, red-orange and palest pink blossoms are out, though this is just the start of a whole parade of flowers that we all look out for and delight in: azaleas next, then the various irises, the long flowing waterfalls of white, pink and lavender wisteria, then the hydrangeas during the rainy season, and the delicate, lacy crepe myrtle in summer -- the color I want to see most is the greens of shinryoku (new green), the mini season that comes after the cherry blossoms and before the rainy season in June.

I think we all have this longing, no matter where in Japan we may be along what is called the ‘cherry blossom front’ -- that long sweep of the first blooms in the south and then the month-long slow trek they take as they open up all along the northern crescent of Honshu (the main island) and bloom at last, in Hokkaido, the northern-most island. The cherry blossoms are just starting in Tohoku and I can only begin to imagine, from the dull hint of it in me, the mixed emotions of people there as they see them.

The ‘new green’ season, though, is a different thing from the brief, shimmering beauty of the cherry. The green is not one but a dozen, two dozen, shades of green as all the spring leaves, on bushes, on trees, on plants, turn a shade that glows and glows with a vividness I have never seen anywhere else. Perhaps it happens elsewhere, perhaps it is a common thing in Asian countries, but I thought I knew every nuance there was to green, having lived in Ireland for a year, but the new green here is transcendent.

It takes some doing to outshine the colorful, silky, showy blooms of spring flowers here, but the green does so. It is partly that it all happens at once, and that it is a palette from lime to darkest green to balance the pastels, but it is also a turning of the emotional season here. Schools, ‘new faces’ (the newly hired young people who, having graduated in March, are just starting to get their feet under them, in May), other classes adults have decided to embark on -- all these are beginning and a new phase of life is underway. It is the beginning, though, so still new, still scary, still difficult to see the twists and turns it will take.

But the new green is, far more than the celebrated cherry (and I have always liked the quieter plum more anyway), a sign of hope, the promise of growth. I need that. We all do.”


Pat said...


I remember how beautifully you described the greens of Ireland, so yes, you DO know your greens.

Would love to see Japan in the spring.

Love to you, little sis,

mom said...

our news does not tell us much about Japan now, but we know that there are stil so many in the schools, sharing them now with the students, all scrunched together! WE here are so lucky, even as we see pictures of flooding along the Mississippi. e have never had to live with the moving earth!!
Glad to hear the greens have begun, seems that would help!!

Kathryn said...

I would love to see all those greens. I almost envy you, Beth, in what you have been able to see in your life. Sue too. Instead, I soak in your words and descriptions and see through you.


Thanks for writting!!

I am still praying for you.

I love you lots!

Kayte said...

Beautiful as ever. Beth has such a wonderful way with words, she brings pictures directly into the mind without having to rely on anything more than writing. Of course, this springs from her poetic nature and her appreciation of what others might overlook as 'simple' beauty.

Thank you again for sharing here, Pat. ...and thank you for sharing Beth with me. Now that I'm beginning to know her, I'm able to see that she is a treasure.


Pat said...

Thank you, Kathryn and Kayte!

I have passed on your comments to Beth, who is STILL writing, as always, so I will put up more later.

Love you,