A snippet of floral designer Eriko Semitsu's childhood, written by herself for the Vestige Story collective. The original piece is written in Japanese.
Eriko was born in the Yamaguchi Prefecture, in a small town in Japan. Life at home was simple, yet comfortable. She lived with her parents, her sister and her two grandparents. She made the first big change of her life when she moved 100 miles north to the big city of Fukuoka for university.
After working as a routined Japanese salary-woman, she decided it was time for another move. Today she lives in Vancouver, Canada.
When I was growing up in a small town in Japan, we had a beautiful garden that I was secretly proud of.
A giant cherry blossom tree grew in front of our house, surrounded by delicate camellia bushes.
As you walked into the garden, a range of hydrangeas, lilies, wild roses and gardenias would greet you. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter were all full of seasonal blooms.
We also had a little pond filled with tiny fishes. Beside it stood a traditional stone lantern, an old pine tree and a plum tree.
Our plum tree bloomed sooner than the cherry blossom tree, and it would fruit right before the rainy season in June. We then picked its plum for wine or Umeboshi. It became a yearly family tradition.
Whenever it is sunny in the afternoon, I would sit down to observe the garden from the house. The plum tree always sheltered Grandfather, as he worked hard to take care of the garden.
When I entered junior high, I was asked to help him water the flowers after dinner. Those sunsets in the garden with Grandfather and his plants were special moments. We never talked much, we were just there to water everything before it got dark. I still remember the distinct smell of wet soil and humid air.
When I entered senior high, Grandfather fell ill. He then spent most of his time inside the house, and observed the plum tree from afar.
When I entered university, I moved to a big city away from home to start my new life. New city, new friends. Everything was exciting, unexplored. Each day was filled with amazement, and wonder.
Then one day, Grandfather passed away.
The first time I went back to my hometown was to attend his funeral.
When I revisited Grandfather's garden, it struck me how pure the air felt. There was a clean scent — a scent that smelled deep green. The scent was full of life. The scent was unique. It made me cry.
I was still adjusting to the big-city life. The bustle was a vast contrast from the calm world in this garden. I never realized that for the past 18 years, I was living in the most beautiful place I have known.
A few years after Grandfather’s death, our plum tree also passed away. No one knew why.
I would never be able to see either of them again —
Grandfather standing in the garden, or the plum tree full of life.
We don't know what we have until it leaves you. I never thought that one day I will lose things that were always there in my life.
This is why each day should be lived fully, with grace. Tell your beloved that you love them whenever you can. There is no guarantee that you will have “next time” to do it.
This was the lesson taught to me by my grandfather and his plum tree.