The Suitcase Lady


January 12, 2016, 9:56 pm

The fantasy ended a week ago. I had myself convinced that we were going to have a snowless winter. A two day blizzard quickly buried that delusion.

My first thought on seeing the mountains of snow piled up outside was, “I have to change the pictures.” The source of this reaction lies in my life long love of Japanese art and culture.

The Japanese immerse themselves in nature. Seasonal changes are noted and celebrated in myriad ways. Trips are planned for viewing cherry blossoms or the full harvest moon. Foods change seasonally and even the colors of the foods frequently match nature’s palette. For example, Doll’s Day or Peach Blossom Festival foods are all pink to emulate the flower’s hue.

Fashion takes its cue from the natural world as well. The beautiful patterns, colors and designs on traditional kimonos were all directly corollated to nature’s rotating displays. If it was snowing outside, a woman would not have donned her iris patterned kimono.

The Japanese style home features a tokonoma, a small alcove to display a carefully chosen scroll, ikebana or bonsai. These pieces of art are changed to reflect what is happening in the world outside the windows.

Our American home does not have a tokonoma, but I do love the idea of living with awareness of nature’s cycles. Over the years, I have collected a few pieces of art for each season. The time unmistakably has come to hang the winter pictures.

The first image is a mid-century Japanese print. The second is a photo by a former Milwaukee Journal photographer. The third is an acrylic by a local artist.

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