I had the day off because it was my school's "Foundation Day," which fortuitously came at the end of the Okinawa trip. If I had known about the day off in advance, I might have tried to extend my stay in Okinawa yet longer, but as we have seen, that would have been a not so good idea. So, instead, I just had an extra day to recover from vacation before heading back to work.
Monday was dazzlingly sunny and quite warm. These are perfect laundry conditions. In the winter, laundry takes about a full day in the sun to dry. More often than not, it would end up hanging from my closet door while I ran the heater at night. One thing I like about spring and summer (rainy season excluded) is the way you can hang laundry out more frequently, with much faster results.
So I did some laundry, and I finished unpacking, and I made a foray into the garden which had somehow lost all its color (other than greeeeen) during my absence. And there I discovered 8.6 zillion motherfucking aphids on each cluster of leaves on my little plum tree. Any kind of insect, especially large numbers of very small ones, which is eating something in my garden makes me really, really, irrationally angry. I want nothing more in the world than to end their lives as quickly as possible. Because how dare those little bastards be destroying my poor innocent plants that are not hurting anyone and that are tenuously enough holding on to life as it is? The little flowers and trees out there are just tryin' to grow, and they are bright and a beauty and a joy and anything that brings harm to them must instantly cease to do so, or die.
This murderous rage was the only blot of negative energy on the whole morning. The rest was spent relishing my plan to visit the Thousand-Year Fuji (wisteria) of Yamasaki. I decided to go and see it on a general foray into town by bike, the usual, bank (what's the damage, Okinawa?), post office (packages to pick up, letters to send). Osaki-san had said the best days of the fuji blooms were usually right through Golden Week (3rd - 5th of May), but I had resolved to go check it out as soon as I could get over there after getting back from Okinawa.
Of course, as with any season-dependent plant life, dates only give general ideas of when the best time will be. There are photos on display at the shrine by the sen-nen fuji showing it in full bloom on May 10th, and another year, April 28th. People come from far and wide to see this thousand-year fuji (recall our own pilgrimage to the thousand-year sakura tree in Yabu), from Osaka and maybe even beyond, so I figured I was pretty lucky since I could just bike a few blocks.
Last year, I went to see the place when it was just past its prime. I had heard of it, but didn't even know where the shrine was until it was too late! A few hangers-on wandered in the pleasant shade, and there was the mild scent of dried flowers, some of the fallen petals crunching softly underfoot.
I went a few more times to that shrine just to poke around and enjoy it. I think of it (quite all made-up by me, I assure you) as the shrine to Japanese Venus, or sort of like that equivalent (femininity, growth, fertility, love, etc.), partly because I went there at a time when I was thinking about Venus and new beginnings and healing and growth, and partly because of this statue:
This year, as I rode up the hill to where I thought I should park my bike, the warm breeze wafted a lovely floral scent over me. I realized with a start that it was coming from the wisteria. I was prepared for the color, and the crowds of old people, but I had not thought about the way the place would smell (I, being lately rather sensitive to smells; recall how a whiff of the moldy smell in our condo made me queasy). I went into the main area to sit in the shade and breathe in the fresh gentle smell of it all. It was absolutely awesome. The photos don't do the warmth or smell any justice, but at least you can see some of the blooms (click through to go to the album):
I also really liked the idea that I could go run my errands, then come back again and sit for a minute, if I liked. I resolved to do so, and also to stop at Osaki-san's "open garden" (she lives really close to the Sen-nen Fuji) and ask her advice on those gdmf aphids back home.
When I went to Osaki-san's, I didn't know what to really expect. What we had there was, older people, mostly ladies, wandering in in nice dress to take traditional matcha tea (complete with a sweet) in Osaki-san's beautifully appointed tea room, with a view to the garden. Then she walked through the garden with the lady I happened to sit next to and take tea with, and pointed out some stuff for both of us. Before I left, she gave me a nice big bottle of AphidDeath (named by me) to borrow, and also some riceballs, which I took back to the fuji to eat for lunch while basking in the ancient plant's sweet presence.
As I biked home, there were cars lined up all the way to the main road, and people walking along the street between the Michi-no-eki (road station) and fuji. There's really no parking up by the shrine. I felt even more pleased to be on a bike, and decided to visit the fuji every day for a little while, if I could (of course, this plan was foiled by three straight days of heavy rain, which also did their part to take out most of the blooms and leave the display in worse shape than I found it last year!).
I spent the early afternoon doing a bit of gardening, finishing up some chores, and getting ready for the evening. At 4pm I had my second HPV vaccine shot. The paperwork runaround eventually led me downstairs where a nurse with a "I'm new" badge on her nametag asked me which arm I preferred to take my painful injection in. Another nurse corrected her, showing her that it was already written on my form, that these things were all decided ahead of time. I thought, awesome, the last shot left my arm sore for two days. This is going to be hurt like a bitch and a half with sweet nurse Newbie stabbing me.
She was super sweet, though, and as she got ready to stick me (with all the seasoned nurses, including the one who got me last time, standing by in a line against the wall, watching), she said "It's going to hurt, so be brave!" I took a breath and tried not to remember how, when I was 13, a nurse had to try like five times to get the IV in my hand properly because she was new. But just because it was Happy Monday, maybe, the shot didn't even burn like the last one did, and the following day, the muscle was only a little sore (nothing like the time before!).
I hurried home to get ready for homemade okonomiyaki dinner at Heke's dance teacher's house, which was excellent, and of which there was too much food, of course. Wrapped up the night by going over trivia questions with Lester for the Pub Quiz at the end of the month. All in all, an excellent day.