A sign that spring has steadily come, even on mountains where snow still remains.
When the villages are wrapped in the tranquil energy of spring, there is a place still in the midst of winter. This is the place where we visited in our first report, the virgin forest of beech trees. The last time I walked around in this forest of the Yamagata Prefectural Nature Museum Gardens was mid-June. The emergence of a variety of plants was everywhere in this fresh green forest. The ground on which I stepped contained an abundant amount of water. But what I see in front of me in the middle of May is still a snowscape. Even just beside the nature center at the entrance to the forest, the snowpack is still piled high. It is surely now known to me that it is a heavy snow region. Even though there is still so much snow, most of it has probably already melted. I can’t help feeling the tremendous awesomeness of what up to 6m of snow has.
As I trace my memory, I try to find the walking path where I walked last time. But the ground is fully covered with a thick blanket of snow, so I have no idea where I may be stepping now. Am I on a wooden footpath or a marsh? By chance, I come near a tree, which has showed its face from the snowfield. It’s as if the trunk has a body temperature. The snow melted just around it, so I can see water vigorously flowing underneath. Of all things! What I am stepping on now is a river!
With the hope that the blanket of the snow doesn’t collapse, I rely only on the unevenness of the surface as clues as I go up this trackless course. As I crawl up this steeply pitched slope, my foot slips through the snow and I lose my balance. Clinging to a branch of the tree, I glance up momentarily to find a bud faintly poking up. Also I notice numerous dark brown ovules with a diameter of 1cm at my feet. They are plant seeds. As I look up, it suddenly makes sense. I am at an area where beech trees thickly grow. Stems standing at attention, tilting ones as if fallen, buds modestly peeping out on the branches of these trees, a number of seeds spread out on the snow. Alas, spring has come to the mountains. Well, my breath is still white, but I don’t feel so cold as to shiver. The feeling of being on the borderline between winter and spring wraps my body.