Minutes ago, I put up a post featuring a Japanese menu celebrating spring, and I wondered to myself if that was even appropriate. As we are all aware, at the moment there is little celebrating of spring or anything else in Japan. As someone who has long had a love affair with many aspects of Japanese culture, and who has known many Japanese and Japanese-American people, and as someone who once lived in Japan, I can’t help but be alarmed and horrified at the images of what is happening to a country which feels so familiar. I can’t fully imagine the trauma of living through an earthquake hundreds of times stronger than the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in California, which was plenty frightening enough. Add to that the tsunami and the nuclear power threats, and the Japanese people must be feeling that a curse has fallen upon them. And yet as we know, the Japanese are nothing if not resilient, and will recover from this. But it is too soon for those thoughts. For now, it is time to acknowledge their great suffering, and to offer whatever aid and sympathy we can. And yet, I think it is always appropriate to celebrate Japan’s great gifts, culinary and otherwise, to humankind, and personally I am reminded of the many kindnesses Japanese people have shown to me, and for those I will always be grateful. And yet, compared to what is happening in Japan, these words and my little blog seem insignificant indeed. We humans may imagine that we control what happens on earth, and once again we are reminded that we most decidedly do not. –Gary Alinder, March 14, 2011.