A soft day, thank God

Today I woke up feeling tired and full of annoyance at having to leave around 40 minutes before I usually have to. There was a fair bit of traffic on my route and it caused me immense stress as I was convinced I was going to be late for work. I drove like a bat out of hell and made it five minutes early, then was mortified to realise that the entire school was on the playing field practicing cheers for their upcoming sports day.

I lugged my bags up to the staffroom… and instead of sitting down at my desk and whipping out my laptop, I thought, what the hell. And I went out onto the field and chatted and smiled and watched the kids. And from that point on, I just had a really good day.

The other staff members were friendly, and I had a really good long natter with one about our mutual passion for cameras. (He was pretty impressed when I told him I’d had a chance to check out the Nikon D600 and the CoolPix P7700 just yesterday evening!) I was well-prepared for my classes and they went really smoothly – the kids seemed to have a great time, leaving me relaxed and relieved. People with whom I needed to have meetings rocked up on time; the conversation at lunch was pretty interesting (local wildlife, cannibalism) and I enjoyed the language practice of following what was being said.

After lunch I went out and watched the older kids practicing a traditional Japanese dance for the sports day, accompanied by that beautiful combination of taiko and reed flutes that is so very evocative of rural Japan. Some of the local farmers were there to instruct the kids. It was a beautiful feeling, seeing this tiny part of the culture that has remained untainted by the militarism that became popular around the Second World War and has really influenced so many other aspects of sports days (too long an explanation for here).

Then I went back to the staffroom and the kids went home and the staff shared marron glacé and kurikinton (an amazing local delicacy made of sweetened chestnut paste) and freshly-cut apples and pears. The air was cool and for the first time it felt like autumn.

So there. It was a soft day, and a beautiful one. I realize that this blog entry is pretty dull, but that was my day. I’ll leave you with this beautiful poem by Winifred M. Letts:

A Soft Day

A soft day, thank God!
A wind from the south
With a honey’d mouth;
A scent of drenching leaves,
Briar and beech and lime,
White elderflower and thyme,
And the soaking grass smells sweet,
Crushed by my two bare feet,
While the rain drips,
Drips, drips, drips from the eaves.

A soft day, thank God!
The hills wear a shroud
Of silver cloud;
The web the spider weaves
Is a glittering net;
The woodland path is wet,
And the soaking earth smells sweet
Under my two bare feet,
And the rain drips,
Drips, drips, drips from the leaves.

~ Winifred M. Letts (1882-1972

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