20 Mar I knew this day
I knew this day was imminent. I could feel it in the warming air, see it on the hazy horizon, and hear it in the rising strain of birds after a quiet winter. I’d been waiting, anticipating the drive through the cedar grove, down the mountain, straight into the blustering burn.
This day comes to Mirukashi once a March and marks our turn into spring. Young men with torches kindle the tall grasses that line the roads and fields. Their elders stand high above, beside water-laden trucks, overseeing the operation. Smoke billows and black papery husks rain down. A cleansing fire scorches away the tangle of dead winter weeds around rice paddies and farmed fields. It paves the way for growth. Irrigation channels are burned clean; pathways that could shelter venomous creatures are rendered safely visible.
It’s a moment on the unwritten rural dweller’s calendar, people working the land, tapped into the seasons because their livelihood depends on it. The farmer plants his crops when the cherry tree at the edge of his field blooms, because it better indicates the season’s progress than any date on a calendar.
Today, at the vernal equinox, darkness and light equalize and the scale tips towards brighter times. Though we call it the start of spring, spring follows its own measure.