Monday, October 22, 2007
Digging Sweet Potatoes ( サツマイモ）
On Friday I went with the special education class to pick sweet potatoes ( サツマイモ）at a field（田圃） near our school. I actually had to join them a little later in the day after 2nd period classes because I had to teach two classes in the morning. We are going to make sweet potato pie next week so we went to the field to dig sweet potatoes.
When I arrived I was mobbed by a gaggle of elementary special education students who basically grabbed me and wouldn't let go. They were asking me all sorts of questions. They asked me if I was American. They asked me if the bike I rode was my bicycle. They asked me how long I have lived in Japan. They asked me my name and so on and so forth for the better part of an hour.
Then they became fascinated with my mountain bike. One girl attempted to ride it that turned out with her almost falling in a ditch. Just imagine a 110 centimeter 2nd grader trying to ride a man's 26" mountain bike that she can barely climb up on much less reach the pedals.
I told her repeatedly not to do it but she continued until almost crashing the bike and falling into a ditch.
Then the kids became interested in me jumping the ditch (溝渠, こうきょ) near the field which was about 4 or 5 feet wide. They kept chiding me to jump and I kept telling them it was dangerous. But no amount of naysaying was going to deter them from getting me to jump. So I stepped back a few feet and lunged across this mini-ravine. You might be thinking I fell face first into this ditch, or upon landing I broke my foot, but somehow I made it. My making it then spurred on some of the braver of the group to try. They made it too, how I seriously don't know due to their being so small and that ditch being so wide, but they did.
Then one curious boy started stripping down naked in the middle of the road. He started with his boots throwing them high in the air and ended with a teacher coming to the rescue before he was down to his birthday suit.
Upon nudie boy's actions, I decided to finally go help my students dig some sweet potatoes with shovels and hoes, 鍬 （くわ）. I came right at the end and was able to help harvest about 30 kilograms or so of sweet potatoes. I then let the teacher who worked all day with these kids take my bike and I hauled the sweet potatoes back to the school in a wheelbarrow with the assistance of some of our special needs kids.
When we got back I helped them wash and place the potatoes on racks to dry. And soon we'll make sweet potato pie with these kids.