The osmanthus has bloomed twice. A darker orange. Softly perfumed; lovely. But this also gives me an eerie feeling, as though I am in some form of alternative reality: that even if the scent is mellowly resplendent, the rules have changed. All over the neighbourhood the flowers are in peak form, following the semi-typhoon we had last Friday that segued into the most beautiful Indian summer ; all of the finest specimens are now doing their finest apricot duty. This photo was taken a couple of minutes ago, just outside my house.

I have many posts in mind; have been in excellent spirits, and thoroughly enjoying life. Totally alive. Everything would be fine right now except for the disturbing fact that I heard on Sunday that my dad has come down with Covid-19 (double Pfizered, but back in January or February); a breakthrough infection caught at a family gathering that has become the expected flu-like symptoms. He is doing ok, but was already under the weather beforehand and not very well – so it has all come as a bit of a shock. I am worried, and will get back to writing on here about fragrance etc when all is well again.

It is clear, obviously, that the vaccines do work in keeping most people from having severe symptoms: a wondrous success on the part of the scientists. Covid is hardly rare: everyone by now knows someone, a few people, or possibly a large number of people who have been infected with the coronavirus, with varying severities of symptom ; I know that many of my cousins back home have come down with it and come through it; my parents’ friend who lives nearby has gone through the dreaded heavy fatigue and loss of taste and smell but is gradually getting it back.

Still, with all the Halloween festivities soon to be upon us, this knowledge has strongly reinforced my feeling that although things are much better generally, it is not safe enough to go crazy (Japan has been in a real cultural Halloween fever these last few years : it has caught on like wildfire; I experienced it once, in Roppongi, and couldn’t believe my eyes when I arrived at the station and saw oceans of zombies and witches and every other conceivable costume partying all night with the police and loudspeakers telling people to go home (almost riot-like behaviour in Shibuya, also, with cars being turned over etc, to the point that it was banned for a couple of years or at least suppressed with a strong law enforcement presence: last year, with the pandemic, it was off limits); but it was fun; wild, and after all the self restraint and lack of freedom over these last eighteen months it is easy to imagine people really going for it again and throwing caution to the wind, now that the state of emergency has officially been lifted here nationwide (we have been invited up to a costume party in the park at Yoyogi but I have told Duncan no; we are not going to Tokyo for the foreseeable future, and are still going to keep being careful). This latest news, bringing it all shockingly home, is a warning to me that we are not out of the woods, and that caution is key.

As they say in Japan, dad – get well soon –




Filed under Flowers

26 responses to “SECOND OSMANTHUS

  1. Sending positive vibes for your Dad’s full recovery. I agree with your decision to stay away from the Halloween festivities.

    • Thanks, Filomena.

      We actually went away for the weekend – but south rather than north, to Atami again, where the streets are empty and we could see our friend safely – mainly outside. I think it is better not to go nuts at this stage, not that my parents have been, either – this was just their nephew, wife and kids coming round for dinner; the kids unvaccinated, as they are everywhere. This fact scares me, I must say.

  2. Hilly

    Everything crossed for your Dad x

  3. Editor Devil魔鬼小編

    I am praying for your dad to have a speedy recovery. I’d stay away from the Halloween parade here too. It cancelled last year due to the pandemic. My friend got it last week even she is fully vaccinated, and now she is in quarantine. The good thing is that the symptoms are mild too. The vaccine does help. But we need to be cautious. By the way, I’m in New York. Over 1,000 cases daily here, I hope it will come down again to 3 digits as in June. God bless us.

    • Sorry for the late reply – there have been various tedious technical problems and then my mum came down with it as well!

      • Editor Devil魔鬼小編

        I’m really sorry to hear that. I was wondering how they are doing. Praying for both of them.

    • I hope you are having/ had a good time in New York. Won’t you have to spend three weeks in a quarantine though when you go back to Hong Kong? I think I would lose my mind.

      • Editor Devil魔鬼小編

        I left Hong Kong long time ago. Now I’m living in New York. The snake stories were all my memories in childhood while I was living in a rural village in Hong Kong.

  4. Wishing your dad a smooth recovery.
    I wish I could smell some real osmanthus. I’ve been sniffing my vial of osmanthus absolute, which is deliciously like ripe apricots.

  5. Tora

    I hope your dad recovers quickly and fully, Neil. Keep us posted. XO

    • He is better now, mainly, out and about and out of self isolation. My mother has had it too, but was also gardening yesterday so I am very relieved.

      You were right about the breakthrough infections!

  6. Sorry to hear this, wishing for a quick and full recovery for your father. Wise to be cautious. The vaccines are great but it’s a slow wind down. Been doing a bit more here in Brooklyn but well masked whenever there’s more than one or two in sight. It really depends, my immediate area is 91% fully vaxxed but in a big city there is constant mixing of people from all over. Hardest to keep up stamina and spirits under such disruptive conditions but necessary. Please take best care.

    • You too. Everyone is masked here where I work and live – I would say about 98% of people, probably – which definitely makes a big difference. I don’t want to be a scaredycat but I also want to avoid getting this bastard if at all possible! Glad Brooklyn is highly vaxxed – not that you would really expect anything else there!

  7. Robin

    I’m optimistic your dad will be fine, dear N. Still, I’m sure you will feel worried until he has recovered. Naturally.

    Kids are little covid factories right now. That’s where our numbers are, too.

    Heard Tokyo had an earthquake of some magnitude and I hope you were well away from any bad effects.

    I would love to smell real osmanthus on the branch one day. I will content myself this Thursday morning with Osmanthe Yunnan.

    Always good to read you!

    • Sorry for the huge delay in responding. Not only did my dad have corona (now much better), but the phone lines were accidentally cut on their street and I couldn’t email or phone for a few days; then my mum got it (precisely; it is the kids……..) and her cough sounded terrible at first so I was freaking out. Plus I have been unable to get INTO this blog for various reasons; I am not allowed in for ‘privacy concerns’ or some other bullshit – just wormed my way in through a back tunnel.

      Oh and yes there was an earthquake as well – I forgot!

      Hope you are doing well up there in the woods. x

      • Robin

        Oh, my darling. Your mum too! Ah, well. The fact she’s back in her flower beds is an excellent sign. (Although, knowing gardeners, she could be on her figurative death bed and still be out potting up the chrysanthemums.)

        I’m laboriously tippy tapping this out on my tablet with one finger because my MacBook Air gives me the same alarmist message about visiting your webpage. Hmph.

        Did miss you but hoped you were just providing moral support to your family while everything was going on there. Hoped no news was good news. I’m rather relieved.

      • Thanks Robin.

        I am shocked you are also getting ‘alarmist messages’ about visiting my webpage.

        Who am I being sabotaged by ?

  8. As I stated in another post, I really hope your parents are on the mend at this point and taking care to keep away from others for awhile. No need for further exposure for them.
    I am total agreement with you to forgo the Halloween party in Tokyo. No need to tempt the Gods and see what happens. Better to be judicious in all your encounters with others. Two more people I know have passed away in the past two weeks, bringing the total up to 27 people that I know who have died because of Covid. It is still a deadly disease, even for those who are vaccinated, especially if they have compromised immune systems, such as I do.
    Please stay safe.

    • Are you serious? 27 people you know have died? Oh my god, that is absolutely terrrible. God knows how you must feel when people say it is a hoax etc. I am very sorry to hear this.

      • Yes, 27, truly unbelievable, yet too believe. When people say it’s a hoax it infuriates me to no end, but they usually pay the price for their own ignorance and stupidity. No shortage of Darwin awards in the past 18 months.

      • So awful. Extraordinary. It is so different here; masks all round. Ultimately, ‘the Japanese way’ has proven to be more effective: exasperating at times (the windows on the trains etc), but some kind of held back ploughing on together that has allowed people to live almost the same as before, just wearing a mask all the time (which I absolutely hate, I must say, but obviously comply anyway for the greater good). The UK is an absolute shitshow right now.
        I find it embarrassing.

      • The Japanese, and other Eastern countries, do tend to think of the whole, as opposed to the individual. That makes things go a bit more smoothly.

      • I think it has definitely been the deciding factor. I mean I am truly exhausted from wearing them all day while teaching; I feel suffocated, but it’s just common sense, really :it’s a shame that idea couldn’t have been absorbed more readily in the UK and elsewhere.

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