--- Haiku living together with nature ---

      From the book entitled "Haiku in Twelve Months"
      Authored by Ms. Inahata Teiko.
      Translated by Mizuta Mutsumi


February - Footsteps of Spring

 Spring is believed to start on about February 4th, which is said to be the first day of spring. Even if we hear only the sound of the word haru(spring), we become happy and have great expectations for the coming days,though the temperature of this month is still low and it remains the coldness of winter.

 We feel excited to hear the word harusamu(cold spring), even if it is cold. But the word yokan(the lingering cold of early spring) emphasizes the coldness of winter which is lingering on. As the snow begins to melt and the ice is getting thinner and thinner, the workings of animals and plants become active as shown by seasonal word neko-no-koi(a cat in heat). Such seasonal words as shirauo(whitebait, icefish), wakasagi(pondsmelt), erisasu(a kind of fishing device put up in the water) are the good examples which show the relationship between the human beings and these fishes. For people have been related to fish which begin to be active in spring and have lived through the means of fishing. And also in this season there start noyaki and yamayaki(burning the withered grass of the field or the mountain to vitalize) every place in the country.

 People feel like to be released from the closed winter life, which makes them open the windows and go out.

 Everyone feels the revival of life and is filled with joy,looking the scenes in which nekoyanagi(pussy willow), crocuses, katakuri(flower of dogtooth), yukiwarisou(mealy primrose), fuki-no-tou(butterbur sprout) are glittering in the sun of early spring. It is not too much to say that people have been admiring ume-no-hana(ume flower) the best since the old days. Being not only noble and beautiful but also sweet-scented, ume-no-hana, which is the first to bloom in spring, has been composed in many poems as the symbol of early spring. By seeing ume flowers, perhaps the Japanese people feel the footsteps of spring close to them.

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