Year of Grace, Day 21. Bamboo

Today is another milestone – the third week of my gratitude journal, and the fourth since I began writing my daily thank-you notes. Writing these short notes has become my first activity of the morning, sometimes even before I have had my morning coffee. I have come to regard them as a pick-me-up for my mind and my heart, in the same way that coffee is a pick-me-up for my body. It is perhaps too early to tell what kind of total effect this daily writing exercise has. Truth to tell, it doesn’t matter whether it has a total effect or not. The point of this writing is the writing itself.

This journal reminds me somewhat of Tsurezuregusa, a collection of essays by Yoshida Kenko, a 14th-century Japanese Buddhist monk.

つれづれなるまゝに、日暮らし、硯にむかひて、心にうつりゆくよしなし事を、そこはかとなく書きつくれば、あやしうこそものぐるほしけれ。

Tsurezurenaru mama ni, hikurashi, suzuri ni mukaite, kokoro ni utsuriyuku yoshinashigoto wo, sokowakatonaku kakitsukureba, ayashū koso monoguruoshikere.

As translated by G.B. Sansom, the famed British diplomat and historian:  ‘To while away the idle hours, seated the livelong day before the inkslab, by jotting down without order or purpose whatever trifling thoughts pass through my mind, truly this is a queer and crazy thing to do!’

Unlike Yoshida Kenko, I don’t spend the whole day writing, as the garden and other worldly matters always beckon.

A hamlet outside Takayama, Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Today’s thanks focus on the bamboo. As a plant I find it beautiful in all its parts — from its initial emergence from the soil as a sheathed shoot, to the rapid lengthening of the stem until it unfurls its leaves. Thanks to its edible shoots, I remember my oldest brother, whose favourite vegetable it was. He adored it in the Northern Philippine style of cooking vegetables, called dinengdeng, especially when slowly braised with succulent cubes of crisp fried pork called sicharon in Ilocano, and partnered with the tender, slippery leaves of Corchorus olitorius, also known as saluyot.  

A bamboo forest is a wonderful thing, and I am grateful that on my recent visit to Japan I had the good fortune to spend some time next to one. The green plumes call to my mind gigantic and graceful ostrich feathers.

Bamboo grove

The bamboos that I have in my Bonn garden are not nearly as large, nor as graceful.  But in just two years, they have settled in and are beginning to feel quite at home here in the garden of this little cottage near the forest.  Just like me.

Japanese bamboo grove up close

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3 thoughts on “Year of Grace, Day 21. Bamboo

  1. The beauty of a bamboo forest in the early hours of the morning is not something you can understand without seeing it. There are no bamboos in Costa del Sol, so I really do appreciate seeing them when I go back home.

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