Observing the seasonal metronome

I am writing this at the desk in my attic, raindrops splashing against the tiny window, blurring the yellows, reds and turning greens on the tall trees outside. We are in the microsesason of 霎時施 Kosame tokidoki furu, which roughly translates as ‘Light rain showers from time to time’. Japan has 72 of these microseasons, or , each lasting about five days.  

I love the idea of the calendar being used as prompt for noticing such small shifts around us. The names of these microseasons track changes in nature, and offer a gentle beat behind the rhythm of the year. 東風解凍 Harukaze kōri o toku ‘East wind melts the ice’ in February, and 桃始笑 Momo hajimete saku ‘First peach blossoms’ in March through 蒙霧升降 Fukaki kiri matō ‘Thick fog descends’ in August and 閉塞成冬 Sora samuku fuyu to naru ‘Cold sets in, winter begins’ in December.

These names originally came from China but did not align with the local seasonal changes in Japan, particularly around Kyoto, so in the late seventeenth century court astronomer Shibukawa Shunkai renamed them. Even with the impact of climate change and the shifts in seasonal timings I have noticed in my own lifetime, there is still a poetic resonance to their passage through the year.

It seems that in nature five days is short enough for a single observation to hold true, yet long enough for things to change, so the next five day season is distinct from the previous one. These microseasons seem to roll from one to the next, and yet they are separate, a little like the days of our lives.

The seasons are a kind of wabi sabi metronome, a steady call back to the present, to noticing, savouring and treasuring.

What have you noticed has emerged with the changing seasons lately? I’d love to know. Come and share over on Instagram @bethkempton.

Observing the seasonal metronome Podcast Episodes BANNER 1