Winter’s Last Day

On the Japanese calendar, this year Setsubun 節分, the last day of winter, falls on February 3, today. I’m ready to say good bye to winter and hello to spring. On Setsubun families throw roasted soybeans out the door and yell, “Demons out! Luck in!” Many gather at shrines and temples where priests toss beans out with the crowd yelling, “Demons out! Luck in!”

Setsubun translates to division of the seasons: setsu 節 season and bun 分 divide. Technically there are four of these during the year, but whenever you hear Setsubun it is the end of winter that people are talking about.

Tomorrow, February 4, is Risshun 立春, the first day of spring. Yeah, I’ll go along with that. Why wait until March 19 when by then, winter will be a memory and spring will be in full force? Might as well get an early start to spring. Nature is. A flock of robins showed up today. If robins say spring is here, who am I to argue with them?

Fitting for the last day of winter, we had a bit of snow during the night. This morning it was an usual thick lace of slushy snow. I’ve never seen a snow like this. You can live for many decades and still see a type of snow you’ve never seen before. With infinite varieties of snowflakes, infinite combinations of temperature, humidity, wind, and what not, it’s not surprising that there are infinite varieties of snowfall which would take an infinite number of years to experience them all. Future generations will see varieties of snow I can’t begin to imagine.

These skies are befitting a last day of winter. Good bye winter, see you again nine months from now.

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