Japan has a tradition of recognizing 72 microseasons, small shifts in weather and nature that occur throughout the year. Each microseason is said to have its own unique beauty and is celebrated in art, literature, and poetry.

Each microseason is described with poetic imagery associated with different flowers, fruits, and other natural phenomena.

East wind melts the ice (Feb 4th – 8th)
Bush warblers start singing in the mountains (Feb 9th – 13th)
Fish emerge from the ice (Feb 14th – 18th)

Rain moistens the soil (Feb 19th – 23rd)
Mist starts to linger (Feb 24th – 28th)
Grass sprouts, trees bud (March 1st – 5th)

Hibernating insects surface (March 6th – 10th)
First peach blossoms (March 11th – 15th)
Caterpillars become butterflies (March 16th – 20th)

Sparrows start to nest (March 21st – 25th)
First cherry blossoms (March 26th – 30th)
Distant thunder (March 31st – April 4th)

Swallows return (April 5th – 9th)
Wild geese wild north (April 10th – 14th)
First rainbows (April 15th- 19th)

First reeds sprout (April 20th – 24th)
Last frost, rice seedlings grow (April 25th – 29th)
Peonies bloom (April 30th – May 4th)

Frogs start singing (May 5th – 9th)
Worms surface (May 10th – 14th)
Bamboo shoots sprout (May 15th – 20th)

Silkworms start feasting on mulberry leaves (May 21st -25th)
Safflowers bloom (May 26th – 30th)
Wheat ripens and is harvested (May 31st – June 5th)

Praying mantises hatch (June 6th – 10th)
Rotten grass becomes fireflies (June 11th – 15th
Plums turn yellow (June 16th – 20th)

Self-heal withers (June 21st – 26th)
Irises bloom (June 27th – July 1st)
Crow-dipper sprouts (July 2nd – 6th)

Warm winds blow (July 7th – 11th)
First lotus blossoms (July 12th – 16th)
Hawks learn to fly (July 17th – 22nd)

Paulownia trees produce seeds (July 23rd – 28th)
Earth is damp, air is humid (July 29th – August 2nd)
Great rains sometimes fall (August 3rd – 7th)

Cool winds blow (August 8th – 12th)
Evening cicadas sing (August 13th – 17th)
Thick fog descends (August 18th – 22nd)

Cotton flowers bloom (August 23rd – 27th)
Heat starts to die down (August 28th – September 1st)
Rice ripens (September 2nd – 7th)

Dew glistens white on grass (September 8th – 12th)
Wagtails sing (September 13th – 17th)
Swallows leave (September 18th – 22nd)

Thunder ceases (September 23rd – 27th)
Insects hole up underground (September 28th – October 2nd)
Farmers drain fields (October 3rd – 7th)

Wild geese return (October 8th – 12th)
Chrysanthemums bloom (October 13th – 17th)
Crickets chirp around the door (October 18th – 22nd)

First frost (October 23rd – 27th)
Light rains sometimes fall (October 28th – November 1st)
Maple leaves and ivy turn yellow (November 2nd – 6th)

Camelias bloom (November 7th – 11th)
Land starts to freeze (November 12th – 16th)
Daffodils bloom (November 17th – 21st)

Rainbows hide (November 22nd – 26th)
North wind blows the leaves from the trees (November 27th – December 1st)
Tachibana citrus tree leaves start to turn yellow (December 2nd – 6th)

Cold sets in, winter begins (December 7th – 11th)
Bears start hibernating in their dens (December 12th – 16th)
Salmons gather and swim upstream (December 17th – 21st)

Self-heal sprouts (December 22nd – 26th)
Deer shed antlers (December 27th – 31st)
Wheat sprouts under snow (January 1st – 4th)

Parsley flourishes (January 5th – 9th)
Springs thaw (January 10th – 14th)
Pheasants start to call (January 15th – 19th)

Butterburs bud (January 20th – 24th)
Ice thickens on streams (January 25th – 29th)
Hens start to lay eggs (January 30th – February 3rd)

The concept of observing and celebrating small changes in nature can be adapted to any location. Watched closely, nature reveals a symphony of change over just a few days. Here in North America, some microseasons could be:

  • Early spring: The first signs of crocus and daffodils pushing through the snow
  • The middle of summer: The peak of the corn and tomato season
  • The middle of autumn: The arrival of flocks of geese heading south

It is January 24th, and I can think of a few descriptions of our current microseason in Kentucky:

  • Birds feed hungrily
  • Doves huddle for warmth
  • Skunks on the move

I believe observations like these not only strengthen my connection with nature but also help me understand how the seasons of my own life are filled with microseasons that can last mere days.

This train of thought brought me to the word “cycles,” and that brought me to the Frank Sinatra song from 1968 of the same name. This song is melancholy, but it holds a touching, positive encouragement to persevere through the ups and downs of life.

I’ve been told and I believe
That life is meant for living
And even when my chips are low
There’s still some left for giving
I’ve been many places
Maybe not as far as you
So I think I’ll stay awhile
And see if some dreams come true

Instead of Sinatra, I’m posting the genius who wrote the song, Gayle Caldwell. I think it’s interesting to note that Sinatra changed the last word of the song from “how” to “now,” which I’m betting was his effort to make the message more uplifting.

Thought In Memory Of Thomas Brown

Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.

Pablo Picasso
Blossoming Cherry on a Moonlit Night (ca. 1932) by Ohara Koson (1877–1945).

Facilities Manager

I hung up the microphone a couple of years ago, so when asked what I do, I answer, “I’m retired.” This morning, however, my wife gave me a new title. From now on, I will be known as (drumroll) – Facilities Manager of Squirrel Manor! I looked over the qualifications, and I do all this stuff.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Develop and implement facility-related policies and procedures to ensure efficient and cost-effective operations.
  • Manage the maintenance, repair, and upkeep of all facilities, equipment, and systems, including HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and groundskeeping.
  • Supervise and manage a team of facilities staff and outside contractors to ensure that all work is completed on time and within budget.
  • Collaborate with other departments to understand their needs and ensure that the facilities meet their requirements.
  • Create and manage facility-related budgets, and ensure compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.
  • Identify and implement energy-saving initiatives to reduce costs and improve sustainability.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with key stakeholders, including tenants, vendors, and contractors.
  • Remain informed of new technologies and industry trends in facilities management.

So, all fellow Facility Managers need to stand proudly. Don’t let them hang that “retired homeowner” moniker on you.

Thought In Memory Of Thomas Brown

Be joyful because it is humanly possible.

Wendell Berry
Les Andelys, Côte d’Aval (1886) painting in high resolution by Paul Signac. Original from The Art Institute of Chicago. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

Avian Flu Outbreak Sparks Concerns Over Use of Bird Feeders

Migratory waterfowl, like these Snow Geese, are the most common carriers of avian influenza. Image by Linda Chittum/Macaulay Library. Courtesy: Cornell Lab

Millions of chickens are dead. Egg prices are soaring. Worries about avian flu have resulted in a buzz over the risks of feeding wild songbirds. However, there is currently a low risk of an outbreak among wild songbirds, and no official recommendation to take down feeders unless you also keep domestic poultry.

It is important to take precautions to prevent the spread of avian diseases, particularly avian influenza, which can be deadly to poultry. As a backyard bird enthusiast, I follow the recommendations from trusted sources such as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which include:

  • Keeping wild birds away from poultry and poultry food.
  • Taking down bird feeders if you keep poultry.
  • Cleaning bird feeders and birdbaths regularly and wearing disposable gloves when handling and cleaning feeders.
  • Cleaning feeders frequently with a hospital-grade disinfectant like PureGreen24 or a bleach solution, and changing birdbath water daily.

It’s also important to note that transmission of avian influenza from birds to humans is very rare and causes only mild symptoms. It is always best to follow the guidance of local health and wildlife authorities to stay up to date on the situation.

Thought In Memory Of Thomas Brown

Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.

Tom Stoppard
White Chinese Geese Swimming by Reeds by (1928) Ohara Koson. Original from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.