Two Mice & a Tick

Here in Japan, spring has several heralds:

  • February 4th, risshun, is the traditional start of the season on the calendar;
  • Haruichiban is the first strong south wind which brings variable spring weather, and
  • Hanami parties under the cherry blossoms are actually a late spring event, but they coincide with the start of the school year and it feels like a new beginning.

Here at 555, I have additional metrics based in nature.

  • The first uguisu (bush warbler) singing in the dawn. This year, I heard it on February 16.
  • Frogs. This morning while taking the trash out, I heard spring peepers down in the tambo. I love the syncopated rhythms of frog songs.
  • Last night, two cats brought mice into the house.
  • This morning I picked a tick off my body.

I was doing a crossword puzzle after dinner when I heard the cadence of a cat with a mission. There’s a certain pattern to Maura’s movement when he has caught a snack. Fast and steady steps, low to the ground and moving through the house without any pauses. By the time I figured out he was in the kitchen, he had settled into munching. I didn’t want to fight Maura over a half-chewed mouse, so I took a memorial photo and walked away.

I was awakened from a sound sleep by a deep, loud growling. Was there an intruder cat in the house? I leapt from bed to investigate and found Fritter huddled under the living room table. No other cats in evidence. I shifted the table and realised he was holding a large grey and white mouse in his mouth. It looked pretty bedraggled. Maybe he stole it from Beryl. I managed to direct him out the front door, as he growled “My mouse, do not even think about taking it!” Back in bed with the doors and windows shut, I could hear him growling outside.

I noticed an itch on my upper leg this morning during yoga. I had a suspicion that it might be a tick; like the cadence of a cat with prey, there’s a certain feeling that is distinctly from ticks. When I checked after class, the tick had attached itself and was creating a large red welt. I tweezed it off and wiped the area with alcohol. We’ll see how it goes. Fingers crossed I do not contract typhus.

So yeah, it is definitely spring now. Today’s weather is forecast to be 23 (74F)and tomorrow’s high will be 6 (43F). The early-blooming cherries are in full glory in the lower garden. And, as a bonus sign of spring, I was gifted a bunch of nabana (rapini) yesterday. Nature has cycled to a new season.

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Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.