Goodbye summer?

Sunflower.KazenoOto.08-25-13 Sunflower.ThereGoesTheSun.08-25-13
I recently learned, from Dosankodebbie, of a Japanese poetic pastime called “finding a tiny autumn,” in which you seek out the subtle changes in nature as summer ends. This expression is not used once autumn is in full swing, and these “tiny autumns” are usually subtle and hard to find.

The summer this year has been surprisingly mild in Washington DC, making me seek out these little signs of autumn much earlier than usual. Yes, we’ve had a few weeks of 90 degree days with high humidity, but those have been interspersed with pleasantly warm days, even with some chilly evenings.

I painted a few sunflowers that I’ve seen that are sort of drooping, losing their petals, or being bowed over by the cool winds. In the first, I use the Japanese words 風の音 (kaze no oto), or “the sound of the wind.” The words I chose are inspired by a poem by Fujiwara no Toshiyuki, from the Kokinshuu, the first anthology of Japanese poetry, collected in the 10th century. Fujiwara’s poem, in English, is: “It’s a fact: autumn’s / here. To the eye it’s still not / quite apparent, but with the sound of the wind, I suddenly become aware.” (source:  Oriori no Uta: Poems for all seasons, edited by Ooka Makoto, translated by Janine Beichman; Kodansha 2002)

For the second, I chose the words “there goes the sun.”

I’m off to hunt for more “tiny autumns”!



  1. These are both very, very beautiful. I’d definitely hit the LIKE button, but it seems to mean having to at least set up a blog(even if I never use it, I assume). But back to your art! The tiny autumn notion is so cool (no puns intended). Thanks for the poetry and the info. I enjoy etegami so much, not the least because it reminds me daily of subtleties. But the beauty is the main thing.

    1. Thanks so much! I don’t know what’s the deal with the Like button — I think you have to be logged in to WordPress, but you don’t have to have a blog. Still, I love comments! You are in the Facebook etegami club, right? It’s a great community of folks! I’m off to look for more tiny autumns! May be hard to find as it’s humid and sticky again here!

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