Daily Life

Inuit ‘Innit

It’s snowing in Tokyo again, reminding me that the Inuit are supposed to have 50 different words for snow and making me wonder if the equivalent to English’s “Oh no” is one of them.

I’m not the biggest fan of snow falling on Tokyo, mostly because of the paralyzing effect it has on the city.

Hailing from Australia, the idea of snow was something of a dream when I first arrived in Japan back in 1988.

We got the odd spattering of snowfalls akin to those that would hit Melbourne during my initial stay here until the day of my departure on January 17, 1990, when a huge dump hit the Japanese capital. Instead of getting a car to Narita Airport for my flight back to Australia, it was a train trip on the Keisei Skyliner, which was affected by delays and stoppages due to the snow. What I thought would be my last day in Japan turned out to be a very long one indeed and the QF22 flight to Sydney was also late in taking off and when I did eventually get back Down Under, I was hit by a pilot’s strike and stranded in Sydney Airport for three days. It was well over 30 degrees Celsius on each day, and I was still in my Tokyo winter garb, having expected a smoother trip home and not preparing for the heat. This experience did much to affect my impressions of snow (as can be seen through the crystal clear memory of the day almost a few dozen years later).

Snow in Tokyo almost invariably involves train delays. And it certainly stops me riding my bike, so there goes commuting.

Fortunately, I’ve been working from home for the past four years, so I get to look at the snow through windows now and am spared most of the effort of dealing with it and its aftermath (like footpaths and roads that become perilous to traverse as they’re so slippery, which a fall a decade or so ago taught me nastily).

We hadn’t had heavy snow for a few years until this winter, where today was the third significant fall of the season, which is kind of ironic as it was generally a warm winter.

Nonetheless, having developed a love for the garden and growing lots of Australian native trees, which tend to be flimsy, the snow poses the threat of broken branches. I don’t want that, particularly with the blossoms doing their darnedest to break through at the moment.

I got out into the garden as the dawn broke and gave the branches on most of the trees a great shake to rid them of the heavy snow that had them drooping.

I’d been hoping to have some great wattle growing by now, but it’s not really the case. It’s International Women’s Day today and the Australian national flower is also the symbol of that day, but ours have not bloomed too well in a year that has generally been low on sunshine. (Some of our neighbors have fantastic wattle blossoms growing, though.)

One silver lining in this year’s first snowfall in January was a broken branch on the grevillea that has been a bit of a highlight for Kangaeroo Corner because of its consistent blooming as it allowed me to try my hand at growing from cuttings that I took from the destroyed part of the tree. Hopefully, they may work out, but progress wasn’t great when I checked a couple of weeks ago.

And another benefit is that I get to take cute photos of the garden ornaments.