Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Most of the silkworms have been spitting out silk since yesterday. Spinning a cocoon around themselves so that they are safe to metamorphosis into moths.
They are like tubes of toothpaste. They are practically empty when the cocoon is finished three days later. The little nub that remains hardens and a moth forms.
It is quite easy to find the end of the thread and unravel over a kilometer of a silk filament. Or melt the cocoon into a floss and spin it. I do it both ways but these years I prefer the spun silk. 
They hatched 29 days ago and were the size of medium ground black pepper. They eat for days and then stop and shed their skins and then eat some more. They shed four times.
The last week they eat constantly. Fresh mulberry leaves only.
Their appetite slows and then stops. They sit still for a few hours while the liquid they have accumulated from eating mulberry leaf turns into a liquid silk inside them. Then they start to walk and climb looking for a reasonable place to make a cocoon. 
Silk farmers around the world figured out different frames from natural materials on hand to make a place for them to cocoon. Branches of shrubs evolved into bamboo and straw woven tools in Japan. And then to these cardboard suspended things.
They look like huge dreary brutal apartment buildings from
the 1960s and 70s. Japanese and Soviet style monstrosities I've seen first hand. Arghhh....
Charlie Chaplin could have done a good job on silk farming parody. 
Beneath the hilarity of being farmed and fed and pampered...the fears and sorrows of every silk worm. 
As I picked up the fallen silkworms for hours on end and replaced them inside the cubicles and hoped they would start to cocoon in the space I allotted them quickly so I can get some sleep I was thinking of Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick.
How would they use this melancholic scene as a metaphor for our Modern Times?
Ingmar would have been direct...memory... the reality of cruelty...
Kubrick...would have used dark humor and music....
I was thinking of how I took time to make those beautiful bamboo and straw cocoon spaces for the worms for years. How I despised the green plastic ones from the Ministry of Agriculture I have used. 
Some silkworms have escaped the dreary safety of pre-arranged destiny accommodation and made cocoons in corners around the house. 
There are other things around the house that are nesting.
The endangered forest frogs are laying eggs all over the yard. There is not enough space for them all to survive at my place. Tadpole mortality rates are low but with too many they attract too many poisonous snakes and other enemies. 
Yumbo Suzuki took two big foam bags of frog eggs home to his pond for his son to see hatch and grow. 
And dear Momo... she is deaf and her eyes are going. She is odd. Her trauma from being a Fukushima refugee seems to haunt her again. She has been a house dog for years. She prefers to spend her days and often nights outside now up behind the house. She has dug a little space for herself and looks forlorn up there when I look out the kitchen window and see her. 
Richard Grehan and I walked to the top village with three old silk farming houses two days ago with his wife and son. It was raining and the mist was rolling up the sides the mountains. It was pure poetry.
The slowness and sense of time almost made me gag on my busyness. It rose in my throat several times. 
We interrupted a couple and their bear dog while they were having lunch. They were siting outside with a small hibachi heating a charming cast iron kettle of water for tea. 
They have rented a small section of a barn belonging to one of the houses. 
25 years ago I was offered to rent the same small derelict space. Life would have been different if I had. 
Humble surroundings and the simplicity of the tea and the steaming rice ball they offered Richard's son made my heart ache. This extremely simple space with clothes hanging by a cheap metal pot-bellied stove seemed the epitome of sophistication. 
When is enough enough?


  1. Thanks. Reading your post makes me feel that all is right with the world. Silkworms should nest, little boys should delight and creative artists should describe all the natural-ness of living! Something like that. I am no writer.

  2. ah, the magic of silk and the joy of spinning, weaving and dyeing. Love the cocoon apartments. I loved the generational family photo on your FB page - very special.

  3. Hey, you've nearly reached your 10 year anniversary of doing this blog. Wow, how time flies! Congratulations!