Aveline Remembered

by Shizuko Yamamoto

 

I met Aveline Tomoko Kushi for the first time in Boston in 1966. Still now, I can remember that time clearly. I was surprised to discover that Aveline was such a tiny woman because her nickname was "broadax."
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One autumn day in 1965, the same year John F. Kennedy was assassinated, I got a phone call from George Ohsawa who had just returned from a world trip with his wife, Lima. I was curious if I had done something wrong. I went to the Ohsawa's house. Out of the blue, he told me to go to Boston to spread macrobiotics. I had never dreamed of going to the United States, especially at this time because I was organizing a beauty salon in one of the rooms of the apartment that my father had built for me. I declined his proposal right away, but he repeatedly tried to persuade me to go.

Then, I found it interesting to find myself gradually starting to prepare for the journey. Finally, I persuaded my father to be my guarantor, promising to come back to Japan after staying 2 years in the U.S. Michio Kushi became my guarantor on the American side, and I was ready to leave Japan. As a result, I have stayied in the United States longer, and during this time, I've had so many opportunities to share time with Aveline.

American macrobiotics started among hippies. The decade of the 1960s was the golden time of the hippie era and macrobiotics was regarded as a fashionable lifestyle by them. However, in the previous year before I came to the States, a woman with cancer had died while practicing her version of macrobiotics. She never received any professional macrobiotic counseling, yet her father blamed macrobiotics for her death and this was reported in the New York Times. It caused the FDA to close the macrobiotic center in New York, which made Michio so busy running around here and there to explain the situation. By then, George Ohsawa had already returned to Japan. At the same time, Aveline was very busy also, keeping her small child, Hisao always around her, and taking care of the entire Kushi household. I can still clearly remember how hard a time she had in that situation.

For a time macrobiotics went underground. After that, Aveline revived it by operating a study house; restaurants; the first natural grocery store in the America, Erehon; giving cooking classes; also by teaching how to make futons, aprons, etc. Without her efforts, the macrobiotic movement could not have developed nor spread.

At the same time, she was very interested in real estate. Whenever I visited Boston, she showed me some nice houses that she found and we enjoyed talking about investment. We even bought one house together. The current Kushi House in Boston was found by her as well as the Kushi Institute in Becket.

Aveline continuously offered me the opportunity to spend the rest of my life with them in Becket, which was her favorite place because the gentle shape of the mountains reminded her of her home country Yokota, Japan. With her passing, I hope she will rest well at her most favorite place.

Finally, I would like to share a favorite recipe of Aveline's with you , "Sweet Boiled Kumquat (Chinese Orange)." It was my habit every winter to get organic kumquats from my friend Kazuko Yagi in California, make this recipe and send some of the jars to Aveline.

"Sweet Boiled Kumquat
1. Wash and soak them in the pan over night to get rid of lye or small dust.
2. Drain water, add organic apple juice to soak and keep it half a day.
3. Cook it over strong flame until it boils, then reduce the flame and keep cooking until it thickens without stirring.

It is delicious by itself, but if you want to keep it longer, you can add rice syrup to your taste, and cook a little longer. Cool it well before storing in a glass jar, and put it in the refrigerator. You can enjoy it for up to at least one year.

When I was small, my mother used to give me a couple of them when I was about to catch a cold, or when I was having a sore throat. I remember that I always felt better after having some. Please try it and enjoy the healthy taste.