MAY is my birthday month. I like the month of May both in Japan and Australia. In Japan after the spectacular array of delicate pink cherry blossoms that seems to engross the entire nation, May is the season of fresh verdure. The sunshine is brighter and the wind is refreshing and pleasant in late spring. Here in Australia autumn deepens in May and we witness how beautifully leaves grow old, still full of colours on their last days, then they eventually decay. I adore the crisp air in the morning and the glorious sunny afternoons when I can spend many hours immersed in my garden.
It was a culturally significant birthday for me this year. Turning 60 years old is called kanreki in Japan. The characters in the word kanreki literally mean ‘return’ and ‘calendar’. The passage of each of the five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water – combined with each of 12 zodiac animal sign years makes up the sexagenary cycle. The cycle of life returns to its beginning in 60 years in the lunar calendar.
I was pleased to find out that mum wasn’t inconsolable as I expected, but was quite philosophical about the whole situation. She was certainly very disappointed that we couldn’t visit them in May to celebrate my birthday together, but she made her resolve to stay well and healthy until we could meet again. I regularly contact her via LINE, a communications app popular in Japan. She is often cheerful and her voice is usually filled with energy, which makes me happy.