Tuesday, July 28, 2020

久々の早朝散歩。雨上がりのせいか山あいに霧が立ち川面も水蒸気で白く覆われて朝ならではの美しい風景です。この間はヒョロヒョロだった竹くんたちは新しい葉を身にまとい流石の成長ぶりを見せてくれていました。その柔らかな緑にうっとり。田んぼの稲も品種によってはもう穂をつけています。これから秋の刈り取りまで、しっかり養分吸って力をつけて雨風にも耐えぬいてほしい、そう願わずにはいられません。I took an early morning walk after a long time. Maybe because it was after rain, fog had risen on the mountain side and the river was covered with white water vapor and the view which I could see only in the early morning was quite beautiful. Last time when I saw young bamboo trees, they looked so thin, but this time they have grown with new leaves. I was fascinated with the fresh soft green bamboo leaves. I could see two different types of rice plants and one of them which already had ears. May these draw water and nutrients from the soil and grow strongly to endure heavy rain and wind until the autumn harvest.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

小学校の読み聞かせから帰ってきて本日注文のお弁当作りに取り掛かろうとナスに包丁を入れていたら、おやっ? 面白いナスに出くわしました。これも近所の野菜市で買った地元のナスです。ヘタを切ってしまった後でしたが、私の遊び心はおさまらず料理は中断。しばらくナスを手に持って考えた末、決めたのがマスク顔。数日前に頂いたばかりの夏用の素敵な手編みのソックスを帽子に。人間ならお鼻もマスクの下でしょうが、それでは立派なナス鼻が見せられません。感染防止の厳重スタイルのおナス様が我が家の座敷におわします。After coming back from storytelling at Taga Elementary School, I was cutting eggplant for preparing box lunch which I already had an order for today, when I found an interesting eggplant. I bought it at a local vegetable market in my neighborhood which opens every Friday. I already cut the tip of the eggplant, but I couldn't help but stop my cooking to play with it. I was holding and watching the eggplant to come up with an idea and a nice inspiration came to my mind. It was a face with a mask. A couple of days ago, I received a pair of hand-made summer socks from my friend and I used it for a hat. I know we have to cover our nose for protection from coronavirus, but I didn't because I wanted to show off his wonderful nose. We have Mr. Eggplant who is protected sufficiently in our cafe and he is sitting in the guest room.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

トマトの美味しい季節です。昔、仕事でイタリアに行った時現地に住むガイドさんに教えてもらったパスタ料理。店頭でバジルをあまり見かけない日本ではなかなか作れなかったのですが、今年庭にバジルの種を蒔いたら瑞々しい葉っぱに成長しました。一緒に蒔いたケールは葉を全部芋虫に食べられてしまいましたがバジルは香りが芋虫を遠ざけたようです。作り方は簡単。トマトとバジルの葉をザクザクと切ります。トマトは種は取り絞って水分を出しておきます。ニンニクはみじん切り。後は塩を入れたお湯でパスタを少し歯ごたえが残る硬さ(アルダンテ)に茹でて、オリーブオイルで水分を絞った野菜と混ぜて塩コショーで味を調整。そう、火を通すのはパスタだけ。あまりに簡単なので料理とは言えないのか料理本では見たことがありません。ボストンでは近くの農場のトマトが甘くてバジルもたくさん手に入ったので1週間に一度は作ってました。友人に教えてあげたらトマト嫌いの娘さんもこの料理だけは喜んで食べると言ってくれました。トマトもバジルもどっさり。たくさん作っても家族三人でペロリと食べてしまうほどで夏バテ気味の方にはオススメです。我が家の夏の定番メニューでした。It's the best season for tomatoes. Some decades ago, when I went to Italy, I got a pasta recipe from a guide who was living in Italy. Since it was hard to find basil at Japanese supermarkets, I couldn't make this dish often in Japan, but this year I sowed basil seeds in my backyard and they grew with fresh and sweet fragrant green leaves. I sowed kale seeds, too but the leaves were all eaten by caterpillars or other insects. Probably they don't like the smell of basil and that's why only basil grew without any damage. The recipe for this pasta is very easy. First, cut tomatoes and basil roughly. Take the seeds of the tomatoes off and squeeze out the water. Chop garlic. Next, boil pasta with salt in al dente. Then, mix pasta and squeezed vegetables with olive oil. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper. Only pasta is needed to boil. I have never seen this recipe in a cookbook, maybe because it is too simple. When I was in Boston, I could get sweet tomatoes and fresh basils easily at the farm nearby my house. I gave this recipe to my friend and later she told me that her daughter who usually didn't like tomatoes appreciated eating this dish. I made this for my family almost once a week because all of my family members like this pasta very much . It must be good for the people who experience summer heat fatigue. I am sure you will enjoy this meal.

Friday, July 17, 2020

中学校でも読み聞かせの機会をいただきました。「ぜつぼうの濁点」(作:原田宗典、絵:柚木沙弥郎)を選書に。「せ」につく濁点が主(あるじ)の絶望を助けたく思い悩んで様々な経緯を経て、濁点自身がもうだめだという時、水中で「きほう(気泡)」が生まれ濁点は「ほ」に付いて「きぼう」になる話。実に感動的に仕上がっています。濁点くんの自己犠牲もいとわない人の良さとメチャクチャ楽しい絵に中一の皆んなは引き込まれていました。「どうだった?」と聞くと「よかった」と口々に言う生徒たち。「聴いてくれて有難う」と返すと何とパチパチと拍手。遥かに琵琶湖が見える丘の上の多賀中学校で朝の嬉しい時間を過ごすことができました。I also had a chance to give storytelling at Taga Junior High School. I chose a picture book about a story based on a play on words involving one mark of Hiragana letters (Japanese cursive letters) titled ”ZETSUBOO no DAKUTEN (lit. voiced consonant mark of despair)" by Munenori Harada. It's a very creative and moving story. If you don't have the voiced mark attached to one particular letter combination, the meaning of the word will be "Setsuboo (longing)" and it is more positive than Zetsuboo (despair). Maybe the theme of the story is self-sacrifice and hope. Students were listening to the story very attentively. After reading, I asked them how it was. Many of them said "it was good". I said "Thank you for listening". Then all of them clapped for me. This morning I really had a good time with those students at a junior high school where I could see Lake Biwa from a distance.


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

I finally made a visit to the Ukiyoe exhibition of Dr. Yoshiki Fujiseki's collection who is a director of Fujiseki Clinic in Takamiya. The last time when I visited for the first exhibit, it was displayed at the level of one's eyes but this time the place was taken by photos of fireworks and the exhibitions were placed much lower which I needed to crouch down to look at. Anyhow, I could appreciate two woodprints. They were "Extermination of Measles" and "Firefly Hunting". According to Dr. Fujisdki's explanation, Japanese people suffered from infectious disease several times in the past and every time when it happened the coping method or curse were published in color wood print. The boy who has pockmarks in his body (might be a parody of Shuten-dooji :mythical Japanese demon) is being attacked by several prohibitions such as sexual indulgence, bathing, drinking, and so on. The other one is people are enjoying catching fireflies at the riverside of Otonashi-river which is famous for viewing fireflies in the Edo period. This area is away from the center of Edo (Tokyo) with a natural environment, so many writers and artists had their second houses or retirement houses. That's what Dr. Fujiseki explained. It's funny to look at how the lights were drawn like bubbles and man tries to catch fireflies even though he fell on his backside in the river.  I often saw drawings of heroes beating the bad guys, but I feel strange to look at this because many prohibitions are beating the boy and heroes don't appear at all. I guess nobody didn't know who the hero was then. It is quite the same situation at present. Nobody knows what is the best thing to beat coronavirus.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

先日彦根のKさんが久しぶりにカフェにお見えになり、小エビ煮をたくさんお土産にくださいました。釣りの大好きなKさんは例年犬上川で釣った小鮎をご自身で調理してお持ちくださっていましたが、今年は事情あって釣りを断念。その代わり馴染みの業者から買われた琵琶湖の小エビ(スジエビ)をおいしく調理して持ってきてくださいました。Kさんの釣りの腕前は大したものらしいのですが味付けも最高で頂戴できる側としてはこんな幸せなことはありません。あっという間に食べてしまいそうなのをぐっとこらえて、滋賀県の郷土料理であるエビ豆にしようと大豆を柔らかく煮て小エビと合わせてみました。子供の頃から食卓にあった滋賀県の伝統料理のエビ豆は、エビのように腰が曲がるまで歳をとっても、まめに元気で暮らせるようにと縁起ものとしてお祝いの席に出されることもあるそうです。豊富なカルシウムとタンパク質のエビ豆は琵琶湖と畑の産物を上手に合体させた逸品です。The other day, Mr. K came to the cafe from Hikone after a long period of time and brought a lot of cooked small shrimp. Mr. K likes fishing and he had been bringing boiled sweetfish which he fished at Inukami river and cooked by himself the past several years, but this year for some reason, he gave up fishing and brought cooked lake shrimp which he bought from a familiar fisherman instead. He is an expert in fishing and a good cook of these sweetfish and lake shrimp as well. They are so good and I am able to finish eating quickly, but I saved my appetite because I wanted to make Ebi-Mame (shrimp bean dish) with it. Ebi-Mame is a local cuisine in Shiga. I boiled soybeans until they were soft and cooked them with the shrimp. Ebi-Mame is a traditional dish in our region and has been very familiar at the dinner table of each family. Since Mame has the double meaning of beans and healthy in Japanese, Ebi-Mame shows the meaning that you will be healthy even when you become old and are bent over like a shrimp. It appears at celebratory meals as a good luck dish. Ebi-Mame is an excellent dish which contains a lot of calcium and protein using products from Lake Biwa and local fields.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

定休日の今朝も雨だったので普通なら散歩は止めにするところですがしばらく歩いていなかったこともあって「ま、いっか」と長靴、帽子、それに傘という出で立ちで出かけてみました。先日の読み聞かせの「おじさんのかさ」ならぬ「おばさんのかさ」であります。田んぼの稲はもう60センチぐらいまでに成長して美しい緑の絨毯となって鮮やかです。東京の大学に入学して初めての帰省で近江鉄道の窓から緑の田んぼを見て感激したのを懐かしく思い出しました。芹川の水かさはいつもよりは多いものの大したことはなく、報道で映し出される熊本、大分の濁流となった河川の恐ろしさは如何ばかりかと思いました。常緑であるはずの竹やぶにヒュルヒュルと枝ばかりのものがあったので何だろうと見てみると、それは新しく竹となった若竹だろうと思われました。背ばかり大人ほどに高くなったヒョロヒョロ竹。何とも頼りなげに揺れているのがおかしくて「竹くん、これからだよ君たちは。」と言ってやりたい気分でした。丹精込められた畑の一角にひまわりがたくさん咲いていました。梅雨明けのお日様を待っていることでしょう。Although usually I do not take walks when it is raining, I decided to do so today for exercise. I put on rain shoes, a hat and an umbrella which remind me of the book titled "Mr. 's Umbrella " which I recently read to kids for storytelling although it's "Mrs. Umbrella" for myself. Rice plants grew up to about 60 centimeters (24 inches) and the rice fields look like beautiful fresh green carpets. I recall the day of my return to my home for summer vacation after going to college in Tokyo. I was very much moved by the green rice fields when I saw them from the window of the local railway. The level of the Serigawa (river) was higher than usual but it was not a big deal contrasting to the rivers in Kyushu which were awful and brought big disasters because of the recent heavy rain. Beside the river, I saw several slender plants in bamboo bushes. They seemed to be young bamboo trees which have grown up to reach the same height as the other older bamboo trees. They were shaking weakly, unsteadily and they looked funny and made me want to say "Hey, young bamboo trees, your turn will come soon!" In the corner of the well cared vegetable garden, sun flowers were blooming. They must be waiting for the sunlight after the rainy season.

Friday, July 3, 2020

彦根にお住まいのA先生ご夫妻が大きな枝を抱えてカフェに来てくださいました。緑に包まれた枝には大きな白い花が付いていました。つぼみいっぱいの木槿(むくげ)の枝。「これは特別な龍潭寺ムクゲです。」とおっしゃって先生はそのいわれを説明してくださいました。江戸時代、将軍が替わる度に祝賀のために朝鮮国から来日した使節団(朝鮮通信使)は必ず彦根の宗安寺(彦根市本町)に宿泊し、その時にムクゲの種が渡され、それが井伊家の菩提寺である龍潭寺に植えられて今日に至るとのこと。普通のムクゲはラッパ状に咲くのに比べて龍潭寺のムクゲは平面のように開くのが特徴だそうです。調べると真っ白の大きな花弁の龍潭寺のムクゲは学名が「龍潭寺白(りょうたんじしろ)」とついています。A先生はご友人が龍潭寺から譲ってもらって植えたものを挿し木してご自分の庭に植えられたとのこと。清々しい白のムクゲは7月の床の間に美しくおさまりました。大皿は日野の福始窯、竹村嘉造さんの力作です。Prof.and Mrs.A living in Hikone came to the cafe holding big branches. I saw a couple of big white flowers in branches which were covered with fresh green leaves. They are branches of Mukuge (rose of sharon) and many buds are on them. Prof. A said "These are very special Mukuge from Ryootanji temple." and he explained the story about the special flowers. In the Edo period, every time the Tokugawa Shogun changed, people who were sent from Korea stopped over at Soanji temple in Hikone. At some point, Mukuge seeds which belonged to them were gifted to the person in Hikone. They were planted in Ryootanji temple which is the family temple of the Ii (lord of the Hikone castle) and have been growing there since then. Common Mukuge blooms like a trumpet but the Ryootanji one blooms in a flat shape. According to web information, the scientific name of this Mukuge is "Ryootanji-shiro (Ryootanji-white)". Prof.A's friend was given the flowers from Ryootanji temple and the Professor grew the plant from a cutting a portion of a branch of his friend's tree. The green branches with fresh white flowers look so good at the alcove in this season. I also displayed a big plate by Yoshizo Takemura who has his own kiln, Fukushi-gama, in Hino.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

カレンダーをめくって今日から7月。今月は小学校の朝の読み聞かせが4回と新しく中学校が2回入り結構な忙しさ。実力はまだまだですが呼んでいただけるのはありがたいことです。今日のクラスは3年い組。去年2年生のクラスで見かけた子供達の顔ががマスク越しに分かりました。選んだ本は佐野洋子さんの絵と文「おじさんのかさ」。イギリス紳士を彷彿とさせる格好と力強いおヒゲの上にあるおじさんの目の動きが何とも味わい深く、絵も内容もよく季節にピッタリ。子供達は喜ぶだろうなと思って前に立って本を見せると「それ読んだあ〜」「えっ、いつ?」「こないだ〜」(読み聞かせの記録帳にはなかったはずだけど…)一瞬面食らうも「モいっかい聞いてね。みんな今日は傘持ってきた〜?」と始める。多分担任の先生が読んで聞かせたのでしょう。こういうこともあるんだなと認識。次からは2冊用意しておこうかと考えるもそれもまた大変かな…。We flip the calendar and July starts from today. I am scheduled to give four storytellings at elementary school and two at junior high school this month. I appreciate having these opportunities although I feel my skill is not enough. Today I was assigned for the third grade. When I entered the class, I recognized some familiar faces underneath the masks whom I met last year at the second grader class. I chose " Mister's umbrella" story and illustrations by Yoko Sano. He looks like an English gentleman with a fine mustache and his eyes above it were drawn very expressively. Since the pictures and story fit this rainy season, I was sure that it would amuse the kids. When the children saw the book, some of them said " We already know the story.". I said "Really? When did you hear it?". "Some time ago," they responded. I checked the recording notebook beforehand and there was no name of that book. I was a little bit hesitant but continued, "OK. Then listen again. Did you bring your umbrella?". I guess their teacher probably read it for them recently. I am afraid that this kind of thing will happen again but it is more hard for me to choose two possible books just in case.