Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Origami Series: "A for Armadillo"

Texas Armadillos

One of my Texas friends referred to armadillos as Texas turkeys. The word "turkey" often used to refer to someone who lacks smartness, i.e. a dumb person. I suppose armadillos are referred to as turkey for their appearance and slowness. In defense of armadillos their eye sight is very poor but their sense of smell is very sharp.

I had never seen armadillos until I came to Texas. The first sight of an armadillo are usually seen by Texas visitors on highways as road kill (dead ones, hit by speeding cars). Armadillos are nocturnal animals. They come out sometimes in the evening hours to hunt for food, but most of them are active in midnight hours. Using their strong sense of smell, they can find their favorite bugs and worms in the ground. They also have the sharpest claws on their front paws. I know armadillos have visited my yard during the night because of several freshly dug holes. The holes are usually about 10cm in diameter and 10cm to 20 cm in depth. Their favorite food is grub worms. Holes in the yard are something I don't want, but because they eat these harmful worms, it may be said armadillos are one of the beneficial creatures. They don't do any harm to anyone other than digging holes on the lawns.


A Foreign Student Who Wanted A Live Armadillo

A few years ago, when working as a mentor in the local elementary school, I worked with a 4th grade Japanese student who had just come to the United States with her family. Her dad was an electrical engineer and was here for a 3-year assignment to work with their American counterpart of the company in this town. The student had never spoken English language before she came here, and was abruptly thrown into the American education system. My job as a mentor was to work with her to learn English, help with school work, help to make friends, and most importantly help her to get accustomed to the American way of school life. She was a very sharp person and her improvement in English and school work was phenomenal during the year. By the end of the school year, she was able to write a short story in English for her assignment. Her teacher was absolutely wonderful in the way she did everything she could to help her do well in the school. Needless to say it was her idea that I come to school to help her. Every student's book was professionally bound. A copy of her book has found a place on my bookshelf ever since.

No Armadillo, A Boxful of Origami Armadillos

She was very interested in seeing a real live armadillo. The ones she has seen were those on the highway, the dead ones. So, I tried to capture one during the night by setting up a trap. Obviously, armadillos are not so dumb. I was never able to catch one. But I knew how to make Origami Armadillos. So, I told her if I could not catch a live one by the end of school year, I would make origami armadillos for everyone in her class.

One day before the school year was to end, I made a boxful of origami armadillos. When she saw the box with many origami armadillos in it, she was very happy and said, "you are an Origami Master!". She took the box of armadillos and happily went to her class. Her dad finished his work by the end of their 2nd year and soon after, they went back to their home in Japan.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Morning Glory - "Hope for Tomorrow"

(English version of September 08 Blog "Morning Glory")

Affection, devotion, tranquility are some of the words used to symbolize Morning Glory Flowers. These words are so-called Flower Phrases. Flower Phrases are words that describe the meaning of flowers. For example, "love" and "passion" are flower phrases that are always associated with red roses. Flower phrases are some times referenced and sent along with flowers when you are giving or sending as gift to your special friend or to someone you love. Among other flower phrases for Morning Glory are "short-lived love" and "fragile love". More on these phrases later.

Morning Glory has been one of my favorite summer flowers since I was at young age. When I was growing up in the suburbs of Tokyo (Japan), houses had picket fences that were made of sturdy bamboo plant. Morning glory vines were climbing on these fences, and flowers were blooming all over on top of them displaying showy colors. We, kids, used to pick leaves to pop them on our hands making good popping sound. It does not sound that much of a fun game, but these are some of my fond memories of my childhood. Probably because of memories of my childhood, I still love Morning Glory.  I usually plant seeds in late spring.  Flowers bloom throughout the summer and continue to bloom into the mid-fall season.

I am into photography. One of my favorite photography is to take floral macro images.  Needless to say, I cannot wait for morning glory flowers to bloom every summer.  Also, I love flowers with raindrops on them.  But rainy days are rare here in this area, the heart of Texas during the summer months. So, sometimes, I spray water mist on the flowers to simulate raindrops or morning dews on them.  I did not think morning glory flowers produce much honey but quite often I see ants crawling in and out of flowers.  Sometimes, honey bees and bumble bees go in to gather honey. "Ant and Morning Glory" may not be among fairy tales or children's stories, but I think there ought to be one.  I have titled such photos "Ant and Morning Glory" and enter them in photo contests.  One such contest entry has once earned a second place.

Morning glory blooms early in the morning and closes by the time the heat of the summer day reaches the highest.  It may be the reason for such flower phrases as "short-lived love" and "fragile love".  But to me, it's simply normal to bloom early and close early and start over the next morning, and therefore, it has never given me an impression of "short-lived" nor "fragile" anything.  I have titled some photos as "Morning Prayer", "Today's Promise", and "Hope for Tomorrow".  In my opinion, these phrases fit more appropriately to express Morning Glory flowers. So, I make these phrases as my own flower phrases for Morning Glory.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

アサガオ - 朝の祈り (Morning Prayer)

アサガオ(朝顔)の花ことばには愛情、平静、愛情の絆、約束などといろいろあるが、”明日もさわやかに”、”短い愛”、”はかない恋” というのもある。
朝顔の花は毎日 朝早く咲いて、色がとても新鮮でとてもすがすがしい感じをあたえてくれる。 それで花ことばの一つである、”明日もさわやかに” というのは適していると思う。 

俺は子供のころからアサガオが好きだった。 日本の家は今とちがって都会でも竹でできている低い垣根があった。 いわゆる英語でいうピケットフェンス(Picket Fence)のようなものであった。 アサガオはよくこの様な垣根に巻き上りながら花を咲かせていた。 夏にはいつも色とりどりのきれいなアサガオの花がいつも出迎えてくれた。 それにその葉っぱを左手の親指と人指し指でつくった輪の上に載せて右手で上からたたくと”ポン”といい音をだす遊びもしていた。 そんな子供のころの想い出があるからであろう、大人になった今でもアサガオが好きだ。 春には種をまき育つのをいつも楽しみにしている。 今は写真にこっているのできれいなアサガオの花が咲くのが待ち遠しい。 マクロレンズでアサガオの花の写真をとるのが楽しい。 ここらでは夏には雨はあまり降らないので時には人工の霧を吹いて雨が降ったあとのような雰囲気を作って写真を撮ることもある。 アサガオには蜜はあまりないと思うのだがアリがよく花の中に入ったり出たりしている。 ”アサガオとアリ” というおとぎ話や子供話はないが、アリがはいっているアサガオの写真を撮る時にそんな話があるべきだとよく思う。 それで、そんな写真を ”アサガオとアリ” 題して写真コンテストにだすこともある。 とにかく、アサガオは色々な喜びを俺に持たらしてくれる。

Morning Prayer

さて、アサガオの花は朝早く咲いて昼ごろにはつぼんでしまいその花はもうそれで終わりになる。 それは普通のことなので別に ”はかない” ものであるとは思わなかった。 でもアサガオの花ことばに ”短い愛” とか ”はかない恋” と言うのを誰かがつけたようだ。 ”愛”とか”恋” という言葉はきれいな可憐な花にならどれにでも言えると思うので、これらの花ことばはアサガオにはあまりピンとこない。 アサガオの写真をコンテストにだすとき ”朝の祈り” とか ”今日の約束” とか ”明日への希望” と題するアサガオの写真もあった。 ”明日もさわやかに” を含めてこの三つの言葉 ”朝の祈り”、”今日の約束”、”明日への希望” もアサガオの花ことばにしたい。