Slowly but deliberately, the winter resets us mentally and physically.
“Even farmers hibernate. Once it gets colder, our focus on the rice fields where we endured harvesting last season’s crop lessens and people feel relaxed. Everything can be reset by seeing the white snowscapes, so to speak,” said Mr. Hiroshi Itagaki, from Dewashonaitokusan, LLC, who earlier appeared in this report. From spring to summer he strives his best at organic farming and other special cultivation, but expressing “feeling relaxed during the cold” doesn’t only mean a sense of ease from being relieved from the duties of work, there seems something more.
“The winter might purify water, air, and clear our minds. Except for this season, we work extended hours… two times more than the average white-collar worker. Sufficient mental and physical repose in winter restores our vitality, and makes us work hard in the fields when spring comes. That’s how the winter works.” Through this philosophical expression, which he could never say about the other seasons, we get the sense of his lifetime of experience and commitment, which one can only learn through hard work. Even while sipping tea, his look suggests a solemn integrity. The results of the winter are found in the pure water and air, and a clear mind. It seems that he already is imaging the natural life cycle of the rice plant come next spring through his own outlook on nature.
But being unable to work in the fields doesn’t mean that the farmers of Shonai have nothing to do during the wintertime. For instance, making traditional crafts, such as bamboo works and brooms, have been passed down as a farmers’ side business during winter. The author, Mr. Shuhei Fujisawa, from the city of Tsuruoka, was also born into a farming family. It’s no wonder that he wrote novels and columns about farming villages on the basis of his experiences on the farm during his childhood and enduring hardships, not only from nature.
Once the hours of daylight become short and the field of activities gets narrower, people usually reflect on themselves. This is not only with farmers, but can happen with anyone alike, a local man explains. During the winter, people look back on the year and have thoughts for the coming year. Mother Nature solemnly stands, and is something not to be denied. We have to accept nature, not give up, and just wait for it to pass. Thus a certain life rhythm among the people who live with these four seasons has come about.