17 Mar That day
A week ago that day came and went with little ceremony. As I ran errands I noted how that day four years ago had offered us the same azure skies. The air had been warm and still, a stillness in which the clench of cold days slackened and we could rejoice in the potential of spring. Then we heard. The stillness became uneasy. The heavens had gasped and didn’t dare exhale.
We flew back to Maine and took up residence in limbo. We waited for the snow to melt and for Japan to evanesce. We rose unnaturally early and took long walks. Our talk turned hypothetical, philosophical. What would become of Japan? How should we proceed? Where should we live? Deep in such talk I haphazardly scanned the bare banks along the road as we walked. And there I saw it.
Exploding from my existential fog I crouched and started picking. They were everywhere, lining the road all the way home. Tsukushi, what I had thought was a regional wild vegetable foraged only in the countryside of Japan, was in fact horsetail, an unbridled New England weed. Years living in Japan had allowed me to see my own backyard anew. It was a revelation.
Finding tsukushi that day was the kick we needed to start living purposefully again. Limbo was an unacceptable abode. Regardless of what the future held, we were able bodied, the ground was offering unexpected sustenance, and it was our duty to make the most of each day.
Take a long walk and gather horsetail. Choose the ones with meatier stalks and tight closed buds still containing plenty of bitter green pollen. (Open buds are entirely edible too, but will have less of that earthy spring flavor.)
Find a sunny stoop outside protected from chilly spring winds and remove the papery rings on the stalks.
Wash well and prepare a plentiful pot of hot water.
Blanch the horsetail and drain.
A few spoonfuls of dashi, if you have it
Light sesame oil
When the horsetail are well drained (pat dry if you are in a hurry) gather them together in batches, lining up the buds. Cut into 1 inch (2-3 cm) lengths all the way down and place in a bowl. Add the dashi, a bit of soy to taste, and a bit of light sesame oil to mellow the flavor and add a lovely gloss. Enjoy~