Unmade beds have plagued me for years. They've shadowed me through high school, stalked me through college, and even followed me all the way to Japan where their slovenly appearance mocked me upon my return from school every day. "It takes two minutes to make me look decent," my lumpy semi-double would cackle, "and you just couldn't be bothered."
Well, as of approximately two months ago, I can be bothered! All joking aside, I made a conscious choice to tidy up my apartment every morning before I leave, and I've actually managed to stick with it. Before I walk out the door at 7:45, my bed is made, my dishes are clean, my dirty clothes are in the basket, and everything is nice enough that I can come home to a comfortable space when I'm done with work. It's one of many small lifestyle choices I've made recently that just feel good. I've continued walking to work, I've planted a patio garden, I've started hiking. I've been reading for pleasure like I used to do when I was a teenager. I think I finally realized that in living by myself, I truly have free rein do to whatever the heck I want with my time. It's great.
After what seemed like a really mild winter, the weather in spring has been perfect. Occasional rainy days seem like a small hardship when they're interspersed between sunny, seventy-five degree weather the rest of the time. Plus, springtime means rice planting, and the process is surprisingly interesting.
First, the farmers flood their rice fields via a system of aqueducts that reach every single one of the thousands of rice fields scattered throughout Japan. Once the field is completely flooded, the farmers come through with gigantic tractors that smooth the mud completely flat, leaving nothing but a perfectly square expanse of water where lumps of soggy dirt and weeds had been. As soon as Golden Week starts, farmers are allowed to begin planting their rice in the flooded fields, so many of them took the opportunity this weekend to do their planting. They use a really neat tractor to separate the individual plants from large blocks of rice seedlings and place them into the mud. As far as I can tell, that's that. It's all very automated, but even so it looks like a lot of work. It's hard to imagine how much more labor intensive rice planting would be without all the fancy machinery.
Colorado is the land of corn, alfalfa, and drought, ergo wet planting is something that I've never seen before. It's nuts how much water Japan has when you compare it to places in the world that have to struggle for every liter, but they certainly seem to make the most of it.
I'd like to finish this post with a story about a woman.
I'm not a fan of major roads, so I usually walk along small side roads on my way to and from school, which means that I walk past an awful lot of rice fields. As the saying goes, you can't swing a block of tofu without hitting a rice field! On this particular morning, I passed by a woman bent over in her rice field, fastidiously digging a trench. As I walked past her, I said a Japanese good morning. She looked up and offering a good morning of her own. On my way home (approximately eight hours later), I walked past the same rice field, and there was the same woman, digging what appeared to be the same damn trench. We exchanged a smile and a good afternoon, and I went on my way. On its own, the fact that this woman was in her rice field all damn day digging a trench by herself would be remarkable. Even more remarkable is the bright red lipstick she wore while she worked.
Dictionary.com defines "fortitude" as "strength and firmness of mind; resolute endurance". I might jokingly apply it to making my bed every morning, but if it doesn't apply to this woman, I don't know what would. From what I could see, she had strength and firmness of mind in spades.
Pun absolutely intended.
Enjoy spring, y'all.