Observance

Today I walked up a stretch of road I normally avoid. I always thought it was devoid of interest, run-down, bordering on sketchy, and just sort of depressing. Well, the joke was on me. First I noticed a little plaque on the side of a building:

It stopped me in tracks and made me laugh.

This quote, which on first glance appears to be a zen-like statement expounding on the wisdom of observance, is actually attributed to Yogi Berra, the Major League catcher famous for his malapropisms. Nonsensical though it may be, it goaded me into paying more attention.

So next I saw this:

And this:

And then this:

Lessons learned, street, lessons learned.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.”–the wisdom of Yogi Berra

Another almost-spring post

A friend just returned from Japan and brought me this lovely tea:

She told me it’s a “spring” tea. It contains cherry blossoms (Sakura) that are symbolic of springtime. Houjicha (also spelled Hojicha) is a green tea, but it’s been roasted, so it’s darker, richer, and more complex than regular green teas. I’ve heard it called “tea for coffee drinkers,” which I think is a good description. Anyway, it’s delicious. I’m not sure if I was supposed to save it for Cherry Blossom season though, so I’ll try to keep some until April, if I can.

The best part is that it came with matching flower-blossom-y looking sugar! They’re actually more star-shaped, but their colours suggest cherry blossoms, so that’s what I’m going with.

They’re called Kompeito (or Konpeito) and are traditional Japanese candies that are sometimes served at outdoor tea ceremonies. They are pure sugar, like minuscule versions of ye olde fashioned rock sugar on a stick that you buy from gift shops or chi-chi coffee shops. They were initially brought to Japan 400 years ago by the Portuguese, whose own word for them was confeito or “confetti”.

If you’ve ever seen the anime film Spirited Away, there’s a scene where the the little soot sprites go crazy when a character throws handfuls of Kompeito at them. I totally get their enthusiasm. So pretty and tasty!

Never too early to think it’s almost spring

They’re orange.

I bought myself some tulips the other day. They were closed up so tightly I didn’t know what colour they’d be until they opened today.

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It’s about this time every year that I start to buy myself tulips to remind myself that it’s not far to spring.

I inherited my love of tulips (and vanilla ice cream) from my dear friend Bruce. Years ago, Bruce threw himself a birthday party. He filled his tiny apartment with pots of tulips in every colour. And I mean filled. He’d cleaned out the tulip supply of every market in his neighbourhood. Tulips covered the tables, his desk, the bookshelves, the floor…it was beautiful, and very Bruce-like. I remember meeting some really interesting, smart, creative and nice people at that party. But what I remember most is that whenever anyone left the party, Bruce hugged them then handed them a pot of tulips to take home. He had made sure to buy enough tulips so every guest could leave with some.

Bruce passed away some years later, at Easter, so of course there were tulips at his funeral. But it’s the birthday tulips I’m reminded of every almost-spring, when a little joy and colour is in order.