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East Wind Melts The Ice: A Memoir Through The Seasons
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East Wind Melts The Ice: A Memoir Through The Seasons

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  115 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Writing in luminous prose, Liza Dalby, acclaimed author of Geisha and The Tale of Murasaki, brings us this elegant and unique year's journal-- a brilliant mosaic that is at once a candid memoir, a gardener's diary, and an enlightening excursion through cultures east and west. Structured according to the seasonal units of an ancient Chinese almanac, East Wind Melts the Ice ...more
Published (first published February 10th 2007)
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The sake now drunk
let's get serious
about gazing at the moon

---Issa (1819)

We journey through a year as the author compares the changing seasons in China and Japan with what's happening in her own little corner of the world - Berkeley, California.

Though I normally find nature writing enthralling, Dalby succeeds in making the the majestic world around us sound...dull. Animals migrate, flowers bloom, whither and die. And then it all begins again twelve months later. Perhaps she lacks the soul of an
Lyn Elliott
Jan 03, 2016 Lyn Elliott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Japanese culture,
I started out dipping into this book and last week decided I would read it through. I'm glad I did, because I really got the feeling of the ebb and flow of the seasons, based on the rise and fall of yin and yang influences throughout the year based on the ancient Chinese almanac. The Japanese adapted this to their own culture and climate centuries ago.

In this system of the almanac, the year is divided into 72 units of 5 days, each unit is named according to an observable feature of the natural
Feb 16, 2010 Vickie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While I loved the idea of this book, and liked the paragraph almanac descriptions and explanations of each different period of the year, the vast majority of this book is insipid.

What makes it a memoir, obviously, are the accounts from the author's own life. Here, we learn she picks up seaweed off the side of the road and makes spaghetti with it. Or that she has to wait a few years for her persimmon tree to bear fruit (And oh, the annoyance of squirrels! How positively dreadful.) and again and a
Sally Ito
May 11, 2014 Sally Ito rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I delve into every now and then. It's not necessarily meant to be read linearily, but rather dipped into as it is a book about the seasons and the ways they are experienced in Asia (Japan mostly in particular as Dalby has spent many years studying its culture) and in Dalby's Berkeley residence in California. I've always admired the sensitivity the Japanese have to the seasons and this book forefronts this sensitivity splendidly, going into those particular details that make each s ...more
May 02, 2016 Ruby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've loved everything I've read by Liza Dalby. The hardcover version is one of the most aesthetically appealing books I've come by. This is one of the few books that I'll keep for the permanent bookshelf.

One of my favorite pieces was about earthworms, or as referred to sometimes in Japan, "Little Dirt Dragons." Her description of the difference in meaning of "night crawlers" in Japan and the US was both funny and showed a little vulnerability on her part.
Jan 14, 2008 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written book drawing from the ancient Chinese calendar, Japanese tradition, the natural world, and the author's accounts of how these intersect in her own life in Northern California. Perfect to read straight through, or to read throughout the year!
"East Wind Melts the Ice is a unique record of nature. In this beautiful journal Liza Dalby writes about the passing seasons, gardening (eastern and western), Japanese customs and a life lived between two cultures.

"Taking the seventy-two seasonal units of an ancient Chinese almanac as seeds, and growing them into a year's journal, Liza Dalby entwines personal experience, natural phenomena and ruminations on the cultural aesthetics of China, Japan and California. The short pieces that make up thi
Sep 03, 2009 Yuyin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i picked this up at borders book sale for five dollars. i was very excited about the japanese and chinese influences and couldn't wait to jump into it. it's... not exactly my cup of tea (milk, please, and lots of it, sugar too.) only because of its heavy plant/insect-dominated content.

while i understand that this is a book about the seasons and will definitely contain nature, i was hoping for more skies, and scenery, and beautiful views, in lyrical language and whimsical writing.

that is not to
LeRon Harrison
Apr 25, 2012 LeRon Harrison rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese-culture
The Tang Dynasty poet Bai Juyi in a famous letter to his friend and fellow poet Yuan Zhen noticed there was a disjunction between his own opinion of his work and the opinion at-large. Realizing that the public only liked a select portion of his body of work, Bai Juyi stated that "that which the people of this moment deem as heavy I deem as light." There is a similar disjunction in Dalby's "memoir": that which she deems insightful I deem trivial.

The source of the disjunction is apparent in the pr
Jan 15, 2016 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I should have added this back in February when I started it, since this collection has been my 2015 literary companion. Dalby writes short memoir essays observing nature in correlation with 5-day periods described in the traditional Asian calendar. She writes about Japanese almanac entries and often links them to Japanese haikus while providing insights into contemporary Japanese culture. There is much discussion of other Asian philosophies and themes as well so the reader learns how Chinese and ...more
Deborah Schuff
I first came across Liza Dalby with her first book Geisha, which I loved and still own. East Wind Melts the Ice is a beautiful hardcover. The Chinese/Japanese people divide the year into 72 parts rather than the Western 12 month division. Each of Liza's 72 "essays" talk about the background of each separate division as well as including some personal event. She is funny and very interesting. I enjoyed this book immensely.
Nov 13, 2011 Kayla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
This book contained a series of contemplative essays, based on an ancient Chinese almanac that divided the year into 72 periods of 5 days each. The author has studied Japanese culture extensively and weaves that into her Berkeley existence. I wanted to like this book more, and some essays were informative but it was really more like reading a really diverse, educated friend's blog. Sometimes worth the time, sometimes not.
Jun 13, 2011 Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Japanophiles, nature lovers.
This is really a wonderful book, if you enjoy these sorts of contemplative little essays. Dalby is a clever and sensitive narrator, and has a wonderful eye and ear, which she shares very deftly with the reader.
While the first half of this book moved very slowly, I found that the second half was entertaining and lovely. The essay about monarch butterflies was my favorite, followed by the sexy earthworms story.
Feb 06, 2008 Babs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book of 72 delightful short stories (seasons) intertwining Japan, China, gardening, poetry, and the natural world around us.
Mar 20, 2008 Therese marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommended by one of the judges of the Kiriyama Prize.
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With its fascinating story of characters caught up in a world they themselves don't understand, Hidden Buddhas may well be Liza Dalby's best work yet. Besides taking us on a journey through little-known corners of Japan, it offers us an engaging and believable portrait of people driven to do things they may not have imagined." --Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha

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