Japan's 72 Microseasons - #30
"Crow-Dipper Plants Grow"
July 2 - 6
”Crow-dipper plants grow”
Let’s catch up a bit, shall we? I decided to keep these next few split up rather than combined, so that each can stand on its own and you can read whichever you like when you like—if you feel so inclined, you can think about where you were and what you were doing at the time these kō would have happened. So if you’ll allow me to briefly flood your inbox, let’s step back into time a little.
For this one, we’ll flash back to the halcyon days of early July, the last days of Geshi, the start of summer.
In fact, this particular plant marks a specific date: 11 days from the summer solstice. Hange is not the typical name for the crow-dipper plant in Japan1, but the plant serves as a visible symbol of an important day in the agricultural calendar that the Koyomi recorded. Whereas other such days describe when planting and harvest should begin, hange indicates a time to stop and take a break.
Hard work can’t continue forever, and human bodies need rest. And hange happens to be when the sun is at 100° longitude in the skies. Or, put in non-astronomical terms, when it’s dangerously hot during the day. This period signals a time to put down one’s tools, and let what’s planted grow. To ladle yourself a scoop of cold, fresh water and sit in the shade.
The plant itself is easy to spot. Variously called kitsune-no-rōsoku (狐のろうそく, “fox candles”) and hebi-no-makura (蛇の枕, “snake pillows”), their unique shape can be seen along mountain paths and fields—the sorts of places a hardworking farmer might need a reminder to wrap things up.
So if you haven’t yet, take a day or so to put down your tools and rest. Trust that the things you’ve planted so far will take root. Or, at the very least, it’ll still be there after you’ve had a bit of water.
I’ll also take the same advice, and wrap up this post.
See you next kō~
Keep up with the seasons
Its common name in Japanese is karasu-hishaku (烏柄杓), literally “crow dipper/ladle,” which is where we derive the English name