Life together with death

Just next to our home across a street to the west, there is a jr. high school which has a few big cherry trees in the campus. The cherry flowers are blooming fully in a day or two. 

In various SNS in Japan, a lot of the same kind of photos showing cherry blossoms fully out have been posted like this. It is often said that Japanese love these flowers in this season. They come out at the same time and, in a few days, fall in a few days, without hesitation. They invariably add a comment to such article that such characteristics of cherry flowers are resonant to our sense of beauty.

I don't know if it is true or not. But I am still a bit doubtful about it. This species of cherry called Somei Yoshino was produced from two kinds of wild species with hybridization in the era of Meiji. The Meiji government is told to have wanted people to love something new matched to the new era. It has been multiplied with grafting ever since. The present Somei Yoshino is politically given birth and is genetically monoclonal. I could not help feeling something a bit artificial with it. 

There are sayings that cherry trees won't live too long. It is not correct. If they are cared for well, they might live long. Even though the monoclonal origin and rapid growth of the tree may make them susceptible to changes in environment.

Investigating about the life span of cherry trees or of the other kinds of trees, I have learned that trees are composed of "dead tissue" as well as live tissue at the same time. Dead tissue work as structure to maintain its external shape. If I am allowed to say it in a bold manner, maybe not accurate in academic sense, trees are living together with death. That is why some of them could live so long as several thousand years.

On the other hand, animals including human beings have lost immortality of individual case trading it with the sexual reproduction. The sexual reproduction assures good quality of life in the species. Our chromosomes have portion named telomere, which decreases in length according to cell division. After 20+ times of cell divisions, it is destined to stop its function. Our cells won't divide any longer and the individual will eventually lose its functions. That is the reason why we get older and eventually die. We traded our own immortality with this effective system to renew the human race. 

At certain age of 40s or 50s, we may suddenly start loving trees. I was not an exception. When we are conscious of our mortality, we might be inclined to love trees which still live longer. Their lives look like eternity to our standard.
Living together with death. 

Some may say it is good so far as cherry flowers look so beautiful whatever it may come from. That's correct. I might be a bit too grumpy and politically concerned. 

I yet won't straightly accepting the full blown cherry flowers.


In really full bloom

 Magnolia is in really full bloom now. As if shining in the background of blue sky.

In close up view. 

The same scene comes up every spring. It still touches me a lot. No words to admire it. Spring is coming earlier by a couple of weeks this year. 

I have been busy plowing the tiny farms by hand. Together with pulling the weeds, it is a pretty good exercise for me. After the soil being neutralized with bitter lime, some compost and fertilizer are given and half cut potatoes are planted. So far about 20 of them are ready to bud in a few days. Some more will be added in the other farms soon.

Recently, I have given up taking beer which has been fun thing early in the evening. In addition to working hard in the farm, I have lost weight a little bit.

In next month, a lot of the other vegetables will be planted. Working in the farm makes me physically as well as mentally healthier.  


Magnolia coming out

The magnolia in the garden has bloomed. It always surprises me. The flowers come out almost as if synchronously.

In close up view.

As I always mention of this flower, my mother used to love it most. With smiling face, she came to say that the magnolia had come out. 
The same thing seems to happen as usual. But there are people already gone away. It could not be the same.
The next flower to come out is cherry in the campus of the jr. high in our neighborhood.  



The 10th anniversary of Great East Japan Earthquake

It has been 10 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake today. 

A few years prior to that disaster, I and my wife have visited our mother at a hospital in Miyagi. She has welcomed us with the usual gentle and affectionate smile. I was saddened to hear her saying repeatedly she would like to come home here in Tochigi.

On the way back home, we have driven along the coast in Fukushima. I might have written about this trip in this blog before. But it is still an important event for us and I remember of that trip in this anniversary.

It was a peaceful rural area along the coast. Farms and forests were lying on the gentle slope toward mountains in the west while houses, mostly of farmers, were scattered among them. At that time, no one could imagine there would be such a tragic disaster hitting that area. More than 20,000 people have been killed while more than 2,000 are still missing. In Fukushima, that nuclear power plant accident has left ever lasting tragedy to the people there. More than 1,600 died due to causes related with the nuclear plant accident. Tens of thousands of people have lost their homeland, that is, their job, community and the place they had lived for decades. There are more than 40,000 people evacuated from that area at present. Most of them would lose their homeland throughout their lives. 

We have learned, rather should  learn two things from this disaster.

One is that we should expect such a devastating disaster any time and get ready for that to minimize the damages. They say there is still geological distortion left along the Pacific ocean off the coast of Iwate Prefecture north of the epicenter or in the northern part of the epicenter. There are a few places which could be hit by big earthquakes all over our country. Typhoon and torrential rain are becoming more serious year by year. It might be related with the global warming. 

The other is that the myth nuclear power plants are safe has been totally turned out to be false. The long operation of the plants was not expected when they were built. While they were constructed with the expectancy of usage for 16 years in the beginning, the government is trying to elongate it to 40 years and longer. The plant structures are worn out and the neutron exposure on the pressure vessels must has fragilized it. Such aging issue would bring forth another devastating accidents. Those old plants were designed to tolerate only lesser seismic intensity than the real earthquakes our country have had. 

Our government has restarted a few nuclear power plants just in order to let the power line company get profits. The people won't vote against them in elections as if they have forgotten the crisis in Fukushima. The myth of safety in nuclear power plants seems to be reviving in this country. 

We relearn these things from the experience 10 years ago. In the next disaster, we might lose everything and won't recover from it. It is not only for ourselves but for the victims and evacuees from Tohoku/ Fukushima.

My mother has died from GI tract bleeding at a hospital in a month possibly due to the stress of the disaster.

The beautiful mountains of Adatara in Fukushima. It was taken a couple of years before the disaster.


K5PKA, WG3U and then W1ITU

John W1ITU has been an old friend of mine since '60s. He has uploaded a photo of his old log in facebook. It shows the record of our very first QSO in August 1966. It was when he had put up a decent antenna, a 3 element quad, for the first time as he said.

I was using a quad, 2 element on this side, made of bamboo spreaders. The pole was also a bamboo rotated by hand! It was fragile and won't last too long. By a typhoon or some storm, it has been broken very easily. It was only 5 or 6 meters high. But with the excellent condition in the peak of the solar spot cycle, I could have much fun working world wide on 15m.  

The log reads that I was signing as Sin and introduced my age as 17 years. It also says my antenna was that quad. Yes, I was living in a suburb of Tokyo with my family. In a small house. I wish I had kept some photos taken my shack etc those days. They were gone. But this short description of the QSO is good enough to bring me back to those days.  


It was in '80s when I met John again when he was still K5PKA in, possibly, Louisiana. I have, possibly, mentioned of that QSO after long absence somewhere in a past post. I was driving to the med school hospital where I was working as a staff in the Dept. of Pediatrics. I still remember feeling so thrilled to work such an old friend from mobile. 

Later, he has moved to MD and changed his call to WG3U. I could not talk to him so often but sure from time to time. This is one of the photos he sent to me those days. I still feel time has flied since his children have grown up and have given him some grandchildren now. He is called "Grumpy" in stead of grandfather by his granddaughters. 

Now, he is settled down in CT and got a new fancy call W1ITU. When the bands open there, I could hear his fast and excellent fist like in '60s. Now both of us retired and are spending good time in the same way, even though I don't have any little one who calls me "Grumpy".  

The log book on the photo shown above sure made me go back to the good old days.