I am going to miss Radio Steve over the holidays. I think that Sundays always seem to go best when I’ve listened to him in the morning.
So today; there was MSNage from somebody I’ve not spoken to in five months or thereabouts. And I have MISSED. That made the day seem suddenly lighter.
I went to a craft fair and bought Haha (mum) and Imoto-chan (my sister) their Yule presents. I and Izumy, my mad Japanese teacher, had breakfast/brunch with a couple of the artists who are in the collective that I joined. Then we went and had Harvest Meal with some of the rest of the collective who are also and environmentalist group. It was great, there were about twelve of us including three kids (from about 6 to 12) and we sat in this barn with a corregated iron roof just off the road in the middle of rice fields and persimmon orchards next to some strawberry shelters and sat down at two trestle tables which were piled high with food.
It was like I used to picture American Thanksgiving Dinners. Lots of plates with all sorts of harvest on them, everything, apart from the dried shrimp and salted pork had been grown and cooked up by one of the group who describe themselves as artist-farmers. It was totally cool and I managed to hold a somewhat halting conversation, with my dictionary at the ready, about the environment and organic farming in mostly Japanese (GO ME! I am hugely proud of this). Then we made New Year wreaths, a traditional activity to hang on our doors. They are made of different sorts of rice stems and red berrys that look like holly, pine leaves and red chillies. I quite like mine, it looks a bit like a reindeer with floppy antlers though!
After that we went to a rice field owned by a guy in the collective and ‘made a peace sign’. I had no idea what to expect from this description given by my mad, wonderful teacher and it ended up being a cross between performance art and magical ritual. We stood in a circle in the slightly damp rice field and each gave a pledge about who we were and how we would help the environment in the year to come. Then the leader of the collective (who owns the rice field) made a kampai (toast) with the wine that had been grown in the field next door and we drew out this symbol in the mud of the field. His kampai was something to do with the world and something to do with no more war but I’m not entirely sure of specifics. Almost a sumble with wine instead of mead! (It should be pointed out that after we finished drawing the peace symbol I did pour a little leftover wine on the ground surreptiously for any wights hanging around the place…it seemed wrong not to!)
It has been a good day.