13 December 2010

It's Official. Winter is Here.

And doesn't that just suck? I have to admit that I really, really HATE winter. I hate the cold. I hate that it gets dark so early. I hate that going outside has to be such a production. I hate it when people say things like, "There is no bad weather, just inadequate clothing."

I'm LOOKING at you, my darling husband. One day that little statement is going to get you a snowball down the back of your jacket. Or worse....

See, I have always maintained that I was stolen as a baby from rich people in the Bahamas. I was born never to wear shoes. I was never meant to be able to picture what "long underwear" even looks like. I'm one of those people who is meant, truly meant to have a light golden tan all year. My freckles were meant to be visible every day of my life. The words "fishbelly white" were words that I was never to hear in conjunction with MY legs....

I know. We're supposed to live in terror of an errant sunbeam touching our pristine skin. The sky is supposed to fall if....for one second....the thought even crosses our MINDS that this is just a smidge hysterical. Because it is. Sunscreen is the #1 reason that we have to take Vitamin D supplements now. Our bodies can manufacture more than enough of that substance...if we let them.

Ok. I'm starting to rant. Never a good thing. I give you pictures of summer. Behold the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

All photographs copyright 2010, all rights reserved.

03 December 2010

We're Back!

We lucked out. The last time we went to Japan was three years ago. It was September, and blisteringly hot. I'm talking temperatures in the mid to high nineties (35-38C) every day. Since we walk everywhere wherever we go, planning for a day's jaunt also included stops for buying water everywhere we went. We still had a lot of fun, but we also had cause to be deeply grateful for a culture that has vending machines on every corner.

This time, the weather was perfect. There's no other way to describe it. We only had one day of drizzle, and even that ended by noon. We spend a day and a half in Tokyo, took the bullet train to Kyoto for four days, then returned to Tokyo for two more before we caught our flight home from Narita Airport. Everything went without a single hitch. It was amazing. I kept expecting something to screw up, but no. The planes left and arrived on time. No luggage issues because we never check luggage. There were no snarl-ups at airport check-in or security. Even the lines were short. It was eerie in the nicest way possible.

The main reason (aside from The Boy's work schedule) we went at this time of year had to do with the leaves. In my opinion, there is nowhere on earth with more beautiful gardens than Kyoto. I know a lot of folks will disagree with me. It's all right. What I mean by this is that gardeners in Japan, and Kyoto in particular, always design with an eye to the look of the garden throughout the year. Even in winter, they're beautiful.

I'll shut up now, and let the photographs do the talking for me.

(All photographs copyright 2010, all rights reserved.)