Sunday, March 24, 2013

春はぼたもち

日本では春のお彼岸を、ここアメリカでは暦の上で最初の春の日を迎えたにも関わらず、外はあまり春らしくありません。今朝もダウンのコートを羽織ってお散歩に。

  

火曜日に降った雪はだいぶ解けたものの朝晩はまだまだ水たまりに氷が張るほど冷え込みます。日差しは春らしいのにね。マリリンも外で日向ぼっこしたいのに、外の空気は冷たすぎて外に出してもらえず不満気です。

だけど、春は確かに近づいてきてる様子。林の白樺の樹皮がまぶしいほどに白く目立ち始めてます。ケリーが白樺の木が一段と白く目立つようになったら春のサインだとずいぶん前に教えてくれたのを思い出します。数週間前にサマータイムが始まったせいもあり、午後の明るい時間が長くなりました。毎日仕事から帰ってきても外が明るいのはなんとも嬉しいものです。

 

庭にも春の兆し。ミニチュアアイリスとクロッカスが咲いているのみつけました。チューリップの小さな芽もちらほらしています。

お彼岸といえばぼたもち。ちょっと無理矢理?余談ですがおはぎとぼたもちって同じものですね。春は牡丹の咲く頃に秋は萩の花の咲く頃に(旧暦の春と秋のお彼岸の時期にあたるのでしょう。)、作られることからふたつの名前がついたそう。ちなみにおはぎは粒餡、ぼたもちはこし餡を使うらしいです。ぼたもちといえば、子供の頃に見た日本昔話でおじいさん、おばあさんが幸せそうに食べる腕の長さほどのびのびになるぼたもちを思わずにいられないのは私だけ?

それはさておき、ここしばらくおはぎ食べたい病にかかっていたので、久々に作ってみることにしました。缶詰の餡が手に入るのだけど甘さの調整をしにくいので(缶詰のは私には甘過ぎ)、豆から餡作り。小豆を下茹でして差し水しながら鍋にかけることほぼ半日、やっと餡にできるほど柔らかくなりました。豆が古いものは知ってたもののこんなに時間がかかるとは。次回はスロークッカーを使うことにしようっと。人それぞれいろいろな作り方があるようで下茹でした後,炊飯器で小豆を炊くなどという画期的なアイデアをインターネットに見つけました。餡が冷凍できることも知り、作り置きできるとちょっと感激。

 

韓国ものですがもち米を見つけたので、今回はうるち米と半々でご飯を炊いてみました。以前韓国種のお米を試してみたのだけど、味の方はいまいち。やっぱり日本のお米の方がおいしい。そんなわけでこのもち米使うのもちょっと心配。どうなることやら‥‥。

お餅を作るように炊きたてのご飯をついてご飯の準備完了。熱いご飯を素早く丸めて三合のご飯がめでたくぼたもちに変身。粒あんをつかったので正確にはおはぎです。


きな粉とあんこのぼたもち。和菓子好きにはたまりません。きな粉は抹茶入りのものを実家の両親が送ってくれました。ちょっと緑っぽくみえるのは抹茶のせいです。

ひとつ味見をするつもりがすでに三つも食べてしまった。口と手が止まらずに困りもの。心配していた韓国種のもち米、おいしく仕上がりました。残りのもち米は山菜おこわに使う予定。

大袈裟ながら、「日本人でよかった〜。」と日本茶をすすりながら至福のひととき。

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Should I Save It, or Not?

A couple weekends ago, Marilyn and I came back from the morning walk. I saw a bird was sitting on the door mat. "Oh no, he's dead." He was not moving. Naturally, I thought he was dead. That was a downy woodpecker. They are regular to my bird feeders. They are so small to fit in your palm.

We found out he was alive as we got closer. He moved his head, but didn't even try to fly away even though we were only a couple feet away from him. Something was wrong with him. I couldn't leave him there. Cats walk around the neighborhood. I picked him up and took him into the house.

He was still. I couldn't tell if he was sick or not, but he was not wounded. I tried to warm him up. I lightly held him in my hand and gave him a little massage on his back. He didn't even try to escape. One time, Doug told me that it is very hard to save little birds because they are very delicate. But, I still wanted to try.

I left him on the bar table to find a container to make him comfortable or at least keep him warm. When I got back to the table, he was gone.

Either he felt better when his body warmed up in the house, he thought this was more dangerous situation than sitting outside on the porch where any predators could get him, or both, he was hanging on the light fixture.

He must have been scared to death. He had no idea I was trying to help him. This is the moment I wish I was Dr. Dolittle. Alas, communication and trust are always important. I could sense his tention. How could I make him understand we wouldn't eat him?

At that point, the worst thing to happen was that he would hurt himself, or get worn out trying to find a way to get out, then would get back to outside. I needed to be very careful to guide him to the way out. I opened the door to the outside and closed ones to other rooms. I stood at the door to other room. You would think he could find a way out. Oh well, it was not so easy.

It is a natural instinct to find a safe area by going far away from our enemies. That makes sense. In this case, to him, his safe area was somewhere upward. The problem is there is no way out on the ceiling. He didn't want to take a chance to come down to find an exit.

He flew from one window to another. He saw outside over the glass, but always landed on the moldings above them. Once he thought he found a way out, but ended up getting lost to make sure he was away from me. This was not working.

I felt time was running out. He shouldn't have wasted his stamina by doing this. It could hurt him. I decided to grab him, then take him outside. It was even harder. I was not tall enough to reach him even with a step stool. Finally, Chad came in and caught him and released him outside.

I'm still not sure what is the best thing I could do in this situation. Some people would say we should leave them alone. We shouldn't screw up the nature. That doesn't seem to be humane. But, being humane could be against the nature's rules. We just cannot do things just because we believe we are right and we can. If we don't think through, we would face a big penalty from the nature that could affect other species as well. It is hard to leave them alone if you think you could save them. I cannot reach my conclusion.