Sunday, August 7, 2011

The first day of autumn, at last!

There is no sign of autumn wind.
Is it really risshu?
— Onitsura

Have faith, tea friends! Autumn begins today!

Old-school autumn, anyway. Aug. 7 or 8 corresponds to risshu, the first day of autumn, on the old Japanese lunar calendar.

It certainly doesn't feel like it, of course. So many of my friends and family live in areas of the country that have positively baked for two solid months now. Even in Chicago, it's been considerably hotter than last summer. Some days I can't conceive of any tea other than iced.

While risshu, this early in the planet's actual revolution, doesn't correspond with any real or noticeable changes toward cooler weather, it's at least a comforting reminder that, yes, the earth is moving and we will be in sweaters before we know it. Summer downpours recently shut down Chicago's Lake Shore Drive, but six months ago a blizzard did the same.

Sasaki Sanmi writes of risshu: "It is still the middle of the lingering summer heat: shining hot, sultry or sweltering. It is not easy to seek out chashu in this month. ... Clear your mind of all mundane thoughts, and you will be able to find coolness. This is true; whether you can beat the hot weather or not depends on your state of mind."

It's all in your mind, yeah, right. But we'll make it. We always do.

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