Cherry blossoms bloom herald the spring

kanji for cherry blossom 'hanami'The appearance of cherry blossoms marks the arrival of spring in Japan, sending revelers of all ages outdoors to enjoy wine and picnic lunches under flowery pink canopies in the nation’s parks and orchards. One cannot delay cherry blossom viewing, or “hanami,” because the cherry blossom is like life: beautiful and tragically fleeting.

image-of-girl-looking-at-cherry-blossoms-courtesy-of-piero-sierraIn Seattle, consumption of alcohol on public land may not fly as it does in Japan, but the beauty and fragrance of the cherry blossom is just as sweet! The year the Seattle Center will be holding its annual Cherry Blossom and Japanese Culture Festival on April 18 – 20, providing folks in our area with a chance to welcome the spring in this centuries-old tradition.

If the beauty and barbarism, poetry and mysticism of medieval Japan have captured your imagination this season, you may be interested in these books and movies available at The Seattle Public Library.

 

Literature

A fantasy set in a world that closely resembles medieval Japan, this first book in the series Tales of the Otori provides an engrossing blend of history and magic that will leave readers anxious for the sequel. Our hero, Takeo, begins this story as a young man whose village was destroyed by an evil warlord. Tests of loyalty, romantic intrigue, secret cults, assassins, Continue reading “Cherry blossoms bloom herald the spring”

Comedy from Canada

Slings & ArrowsAre you constantly annoyed by what’s on commercial television and find you have watched all the hot HBO series from beginning to end? Try Slings & Arrows, a three season comedy from Canada available on DVD. The story takes place behind the scenes of the fictional New Burbage Festival, a theatre troupe modeled loosely on the real life Stratford Festival, in Stratford Ontario. The Canadian actors and writers offer a subtly different voice from the US or British shows I’m used to and the episodes are chock full of behind the scenes back-biting and shenanigans delivered with pure Shakespearian flair.

The first season begins when the festival falls on difficult times with the untimely demise of its artistic director Oliver Welles. In a pinch they bring in the notorious Geoffrey Tennant, formerly an actor with the production, best remembered for his mental breakdown while on stage seven years earlier playing Hamlet. Tennant must cope with the notoriously difficult play, the foibles of his cast of actors, a sponsor run rampant AND the ghost of Oliver. No need to be Shakespeare literate to enjoy the production – the fine acting brings the playscript to life right before your eyes.

Dear Farmer John

veggies7.jpgFor Valentine’s Day I made dinner and invited friends over to watch the documentary The Real Dirt on Farmer John.  It’s the deeply personal story of John Peterson, a creative northern Illinois farmer who suffered from the near loss of his family farm and exclusion by his neighbors. The film narrates the history of the Peterson family and explains how John ended up running the farm at a young age.  During that time he was able to balance running the farm with going to college and enjoying his playful life. Then came the 1980’s and, like so many other farmers at the time, John was in financial trouble. 

The film brilliantly conveys the emotional burdens that John bears after inheriting the family farm: the pride of three generations of farmers as well as the shame of having to make great sacrifices with his land. One of the most personal moments in the film is when John communicates his dread of having to tell his mother about the farm’s financial problems.  His expressive mother brings the family’s memories alive and becomes the reason for John’s persistence with organic agriculture.  Farmer John’s Angelic Organics is wildly successful now due in part to Community Supported Agriculture.  I loved The Real Dirt on Farmer John because it’s a story of small farm success in the age of corporate agriculture.