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As spring is to winter

I picked up a wonderful book called "Wabi" by Jumonji Bishin from the Gifu Prefectural Library about 2 months ago. In an essay at the books beginning, Soshitsu Sen introduces "Wabi" ideals in Tea Ceremony. It's rather crude to summarize the essay so simply but essentially it is through contrasting things that we come to appreciate both. For example, blossoms and bright autumn leaves symbolize the sublime, and it is only after we have fully savored their delights that we can appreciate late autumn and winter. The idea is best expressed in a haiku by Fujiwara Ietaka:


To those who wait

Only for the flowers

I would like to show

The shoots of spring herbs

Amid the snow in the mountain village.


About now, you are probably wondering how a picture of my daughters at play connects to this idea. The idea that we understand something, that we can appreciate something more fully by placing it in contrast to things around it (or in the case of seasons, by those that come before and after) is a fairly straightforward one but I think we tend to loose sight of the understated as it takes a backseat to the splendid around us.


I spent the day with my girls yesterday. Their contrasts were so pronounced. My eldest made and packed her picnic lunch, picnic blankets for everyone, something to drink, bandaids, and bug balm among others. My youngest was too busy playing to prepare anything and had to be reminded to put on her socks before leaving.


As I watched them at play, one racing through the darkness, the other cautiously making her way, that essay kept popping into my head. As spring is to winter they are different but beautiful in their own way.


Yesterday was a fantastic day and meant more to me than they'll likely ever know.

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Taken on September 24, 2012