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Essay

Springtime superpowers

By Deborah Davidson

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Spring comes later to Hokkaido than anywhere else in Japan. April is a treacherous month, often bringing snow and frost even after you thought it would be safe to plant your garden. But May is usually safe. May is truly spring. It comes late, but it brings astounding and sudden changes. And because of this, we can clearly observe its superpowers.

What probably comes to your mind is the new growth of plants. Wild greens like the dandelion are said to be the most nutritious at this time of year, full of power and persistence. They push up through soil that is hardened by the weight of winter snow. They even push up through the cracks in bricks and concrete.

But the superpowers I am talking about are on a more personal level. Spring brings superpowers to people like me, who are bound by snow and ice for five to six months of the year. When the snow is finally gone, I take off my thick coat and exchange my heavy snow boots for lightweight loafers. Suddenly, I feel like I have sprouted wings. I feel as though I could fly.

I no longer need to protect my cold hands with thick woolen gloves. I can touch and feel the fuzz on the wild ferns, the sticky milk of broken dandelion stems, the rough bark of the cherry trees. My nasal passages are no longer dry and frozen. I can smell the richness of the soil and thousands of growing things. Enhanced touch and smell have become my superpowers.

The world is suddenly full of sound. Not only because our windows are open more often, but also because the deep snow that muffled all noises during the winter is absent. With my enhanced hearing, I can hear the sap trickling deep inside the beech tree.

After the monotonous white and gray of winter, suddenly there are colors everywhere. My enhanced sight zooms in on the edible wild greens of the river bank and meadow. My sensitized tongue delights in the subtle bitterness of butterbur buds and the creaminess of angelica tree shoots. Surely my hearing, sight, and sense of taste have been infused with superpowers!

My arthritic joints are loosened by the milder temperatures. This gives me enhanced mobility. I feel nimble and strong enough to climb castle walls or jump from tree limb to tree limb. I could be a ninja like I always wanted to be! This awe of my own senses will fade in a few weeks, and my "superpowers" will seem part of ordinary life. But Hokkaido's brief spring stimulates my senses enough to inspire my art for the whole year.

春の不思議な力

冬の長い北海道で春を本当に実感できるのは5月になってから。春がもたらす変化は、体のさまざまな感覚を刺激し、まるで不思議な力を授かったかのように感じると言う。

The Japan Times ST: June 1, 2018

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート

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2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版
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