Wednesday, April 16, 2014


GLORY DAYS

Haven't seen a monkey around these parts for months now; much of the time it's almost as though the thieves have slipped my mind, but I guess the planter part of me is always on watch, because the other morning when I was behind the house selecting a net to put over the new lettuce that one of the crows had developed a taste for, I glanced out back with an instinctual feeling and saw an elderly female monkey limping up the road alone (not a screech for miles around, so she wasn't a scout; anyway, scouts don't limp). She stopped a moment to gaze into my early garden, where, thanks to careful planning, nothing was growing that monkeys like.

She stayed hunkered there in the road, resting and engaging in some form of monkey contemplation, then began limping off toward the property across the way, where the pickings were even slimmer-- zero, to be precise. Looked like she had a bad hip, maybe age, like me; maybe sciatica like me. Her many kids were all gone off on their own; she too was an empty nester. As to the whereabouts of all her former 'husbands,' Who the hell knows? she'd likely respond, if anyone cared enough to ask.

As she hobbled away, she paused and turned to look back at my garden once more, and it seemed to someplace in my heart that she was feeling a monkey version of nostalgia, perhaps wistfully recalling all the fine dining she used to enjoy in her golden years as a wandering young mountain beauty in one of the elite troupes that patronized my establishment in those days. 

The longer she gazed, the more she seemed to be wondering what had happened to all those yesterdays-- so far gone, yet so immediate, for the past has its own gravity-- in her case, of savory summer days with their tender onions and crisp cucumbers, their crunchy potatoes and other monkey delicacies I used to have on the menu at my fresh organic monkey cuisine emporium, where every ape who was anybody used to hang out with wild abandon in the golden light that lit the skies when she was a girl... 

Was she visiting once more the dining palace of her memories that she had come all this way alone to behold before she-- not retired, but maybe there's an Old Monkeys' Tree somewhere that they go to, way up in the woods there. I've never seen such a place, but as any animal expert will tell you, there's an infinity of things we do not know about monkeys, which I can back up with 20 years of direct experience.

As we stood there looking at each other for a powerful moment, there was no way I could tell her that things had changed because of monkeys like her, that now I only grow stuff that the beasts won't touch, though "beasts" may be politically incorrect these days, I don't know; humans are getting pretty fussy about the old ways, and are whipping up respect for everybody, but anyway, given the nature of the moment I felt I had to be nice and didn't think more than once about throwing a rock, even though respect is something monkeys couldn't care less about - it's always been a power thing with them: You do this or I bite you - and though she appeared to be leaving all that behind as she entered elderhood, you can never be sure; the future, too, has its own gravity... 

Then she turned away and we both limped off into the rest of our lives.


Saturday, April 12, 2014


FAMILY

Standing out on the deck this morning in the chill breeze from the north, cooling off after a long, sweaty task involving stones, as I stood in the shallows of my immediate self with all its discomfort and other rightnow problems of oh, so many complex kinds, my body took its usual first deep, welcome breath after heavy physical labor and my nose lifted me to full delight in the sudden beauty of weeping-cherry blossom fragrance, from deep back in all time... a message from the ancestors...


Thursday, April 10, 2014


Mountain stage -  
wind sings 
bamboo dances 


Monday, April 07, 2014


MEETINGS WITH MYSELF

Being frequently alone up here I have a lot of these meetings, especially lately, what with the weird weather and with pushing well into my seventies, when new questions come up at an accelerating pace, like where in hell did I put that fill in the blank. Plus it's been oddly cold for early April days; my life habit takes it tacitly to be November or so, with snow in the offing and winter ahead, wants me to eat warm calorific foods and snuggle out of reach of aimless winds and fitful rains. 

It's as though the atmosphere can't keep track of the calendar. Lately the weather seems to have gone to the dark side, but that’s just me looking out the window into the steely air, holding a meeting as the cherry blossoms try to remember what they're supposed to do at around this time every year and how. Happens to us all. 

It's confusing as well to the shiitake, who were completely suckered by that 10 minutes or so of sudden warmthiness that happened earlier in the month. Spring can be so cynical. At the feel of it, many of the newly emerged and naive shiitake came running into almost full mushroomhood completely naked, only to realize 10 minutes later that the sudden northerly wind was effing cold, what is this, and they right away wanted to go back to nubhood, but of course they couldn't, once you’re a mushroom, you're a mushroom. Talk to immigration.

The ancient mushroom code is extremely strict about this, so all the shivering newbies can do at that point is what we ourselves would do if we were full out in the frigid air on a log on a mountain somewhere completely naked, which is stop it right there, do not invest another iota of energy in growth, forget about it, just hunker down forever, because this is it! 

It's not pretty, but as I say the shroom laws are firm on this point-- buncha permanently hunkering mushrooms out there now, and speaking of firmness, those hunkerees acquire a wondrous texture that human teeth - which I and many of my acquaintances still happen to have - find most toothsome indeed.

Now back to my meeting.  


Saturday, April 05, 2014


LITTLE GIRLS IN A GARDEN

I remember when the twins Mitsuki and Miasa were about 4 years old, we were doing garden work and I handed each of them a rake. They looked at the huge objects in their hands the way I would look at a 50-quon Grongorch from the Gas Jungles of Saturn, then their eyes turned to me with a glint of a hint at what a bonehead I was, for assuming that one is born knowing how to use whatever a "rake" is. 

This characteristic of mine doesn't seem to diminish as I get older. The other day I and the twins (now 10 years old) were out in the same garden and I gave each of them a packet of spinach seeds, showed them the new furrows I'd made, asked them to plant the seeds about 2 cm apart, said we could thin them later. 

They started at opposite ends of the long rows and worked toward each other, reaching into their packets and carefully lifting out just one seed at a time, grasping it softly between two fingertips, like a tiny egg, then reaching down and placing it gently upon the soft cushion of soil - just there - like putting a tiny doll to bed, then patting it into place with the end of a loving finger, taking each seed at its true value, even tucking it in with a little earthy blanket, then extracting the next seed in all the same way and placing it, as precisely as possible by eye, about 2 cm down the row. The rows of seeds filled slowly, but perfectly. 

With a row-and-a-half per twin, it took quite a while to get all the seeds arranged in comfort and sleeping softly, but M&M seemed to enjoy it, they were fully absorbed and far away, and I'll bet it was all worth it: that spinach will be the happiest, most nourishing, spiritually balanced and tastiest spinach I've ever grown.

But it was a rarer treasure to watch the twins in those natural moments, of the patient and caring kind that only free-range kids seem able to embody in this fast-forward world; all the more precious to the lucky elder nearby who has to go far back in his own museum to get hold of anything that real anymore, the way real used to be, that now seems to live mainly in fading recollection... 

The pure breath of life, these little girls, who still wear the aura of the eternity whence they came, still live in a when where each new thing is impeccably new, infinite with possibilities and deserving of tenderest care without embarrassment, up to a point; I was a boy, myself...


Sunday, March 30, 2014


THE MESSAGE OF THE GOLDEN PHOENIX

For those of us who grew up before the inception of “real time” (and its nevermentioned dark twin “fake time”), the old myths still have a way of coming into life when you least expect them, like the other afternoon when I was folding my underwear. Generally not a mythic moment, but things stopped being “general” when I moved here. 

Actually the whole episode had started that morning, when I was opening an upstairs window to let in more of this luscious new air and saw The Lord of the Entire Moment strutting nobly, iridescent chest out, along the King’s Way (past my woodpile) as though tossing gold coins to imaginary mobs of worshipful subjects lining the path to my compost heap.

Royalty can, as we know, be oblivious to reality, though I wasn't thinking about that at the time, I was thinking Wow, he looks like he’s been prepped for something big, is he ever sleek, and in magnificent array-- but why is he just wandering aimlessly around his personal mountain gardens, to a small portion of which I happen to hold a mere paper deed?

 Not long after that, as the revelation unwound, from a back window upstairs where I was addressing said underwear, I saw, I swear, emerging from the forest, a shimmering Golden Phoenix illumined by the sun, the shining presence strolling nonchalantly, yet with supreme grace, out into the light as if to greet the world with revelations worthy only of a gleaming Golden Phoenix. This was way bigger than my underwear.

I was facing west, so the sun was fully in my eyes, making the phoenix a golden silhouette with a such blinding aura that I couldn't tell what kind of creature it was, other than that it was alive, but since it was a phoenix it had to be a bird-- one can be pretty convinced even at the edge of a myth, and this was a myth, right?

The presence came stepping nobly out of the dark woods like a good myth might, the brightest of light right out of the dark, lowdown and streamlined, rich with mythos, bearing a spiritual message... The truth came following closely a few seconds later when also came His Noble Self himself - long live the Lord of the Mountain - now just plain loping along, lusting after what must be, I realized, a vavavoom Marilyn-Ava-Rita blend of young hen pheasant, making the absolute most of the moment and its ambient light, who now did a fast u-turn and ran squawking back into the forest, barely managing to stay out of his lordship’s beaky reach and lusty clutches as she disappeared into the dimness, heavy-breathing nobility hot on her heels. 

Then I noticed that the forest floor and meadow ground all around was alive with bouncing birds of several kinds, including numerous thrushes tossing leaves aside while ogling each other, as the the King and his on-and-off consort continued running in and out of the woods while a warbler trilled somewhere with all his heart, and I finally got what Spring was trying to say.


Monday, March 24, 2014


Shocking, all the things 
my body can do 
that I can't...


Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Old Ones

We followed their path today
through what was once their world
that led among the children of their trees.

The lyrics of their streams were still clear,
their footsteps there to meet our own,
and so the way was easy.

These city feet, on city legs
had lost the dance on thoroughfares,
without the give and take of earth and life.

But here was the balanced flow of focus
that the ancient journey is, of foot
step  -  there  -  just there.

In this old certainty, the plants
grew close up to the path, trusting of my steps -
We were the old ones, coming by again.

                                               --from Ashiu Poems, 1987

Sunday, March 16, 2014


ONCE THERE WERE DRAGONS

As I was passing through a lakeside village yesterday morning on my way south, I saw a young fellow in a traditional men's kimono, calling into the doorway of a house. He caught my eye not only because of the kimono in everyday public on a daily street, but also because he was wearing a non-traditional backpack that was red and shiny - like some of the newer ones are these days - but oddly shaped, from what I could see.

Then he turned and began dancing, right there on the otherwise empty sidewalk, on the empty street of the Saturday morning village, his hands waving about in the prescribed manner of Japanese folk dance, and as he turned and turned I could see that the red part of the ‘backpack’ was in fact the stylized head of a red dragon; the lower part was a soft, truncated representation of the scaly dragon body. Then a drum and flute sounded, as his two accompanists - a minimal crew, also in kimono - emerged from behind the tall hedge and the trio began to perform.

Apparently they were going through the village in the new fashion, stopping only at households that opened to them and exorcising the demons there, of the kind to be found in every household in the world, if truth be told - and in many countries there are just the dragons needed to resolve the matter - but local public interest in demon rousting appears to be reaching new lows; just enough is budgeted now to satisfy the few elder residents who remember the old days, and still demand dragons.

This was the remnant of what once was a feisty village festival, in which a full-bodied, multi-citizened, demon-snapping dragon went whirling through the crowded streets from house to house of open doors, purifying each home with snapping jaws and writhing dance to many drums and flutes, creating strong memories of confidence in the little kids and reinforcing family solidarity against the demons that ever abide...

Now it is but a vestige, like the dragon's tail... like the dragon himself, who may soon be gone; there have been signs of dragon deficiency...

Where will time take us, when the dragons are no more?


Friday, March 07, 2014


WAITING FOR THE LIGHT

On a drive down to the lakeside road early Saturday morning, I was waiting for the village traffic light to change when I saw a boy on his way from the train station to the junior high school, also waiting for the light to change.

He was standing there alone in his world, as we all do at such times. Wearing his sports uniform, apparently on his way to practice, he began to do incipient teenagey things: wriggle one shoulder, then the other, making his uniform fit his new body more perfectly, then flicking his head this way and that to fling his hair into the just-right random position, then fingering his forelock to casual perfection, tweaking his posture, fiddling with all those things I remember fiddling with back at that age, not possibly decades ago.

Leaving the uneasy edge of certain childhood and entering the bewildering dawn of the outer self-- what a journey that was: standing this tall for hours in front of mirrors, pursuing the unattainable form in the ideal shirt, perfect pants of precise fit, these shoes and no others, all of a style that would last forever, every waking moment the focus of a new-life look at this historic and invaluable instant: gleaming shoes, hair combed per minute, rat-tail comb in pegged pants back pocket, as I recall in flashes...

Then three junior high girls from the train came up quietly behind the boy and stood there at a discreet distance, remaining silent lest he turn and behold them and then what, and began doing the female version of the same choreography of hair care and mini-twerks, not one of the four wondering, any more than anyone does at that age (and beyond), "What is causing this odd behavior? Why am I doing these things?" These are not questions we get to ask, or even conceive of-- until perhaps decades later, while maybe waiting for the light...

Cultures are formed around these cosmos-driven, reflexy things. If we were placed in full charge of them we would never have evolved this far, let alone have developed the simple, cogitative, aggregative sapience that evolution has permitted us, assuaging some living need in us to deal - if only in a limited way - with such fundamental concepts as sex, subsistence and society, all of which we're still having global problems with. We are new to this, after all; as a species, we're not even out of beta yet, really...

Those tweaking, flicking, twerking kids are doing big work.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014


Kyoto Journal issue #79 
- An Unfamiliar Home
is now out!

 #79 is out! 
Includes selections from Pure Land Mountain; 

Thursday, February 13, 2014


SPIRIT BREAKFAST

This morning I had the huge dawn fortune of going out into snow-cleared air and walking past all the fence posts with their high snow caps and beyond them the views of frosted mountains, the Lake like wet granite glazing off to mountains on the other side, then mountains beyond them, and beyond all the unrisen sun casting pastel glows and purple charcoal shadows out over everything as the mountains allowed, all hanging still in the silence of the air, just hanging all around out there, timeflake by timeflake: Lake, sky, mountain, air, all that spectacularity just being there and doing nothing in particular, just the everything it always does, seen or unseen, praised or unpraised, loved or unloved, the same everything that matters to the seeker who is the living soul within a body that, just risen from the winter of night in deep need of a spirit breakfast, to feast upon such colors and lights, scents and silences, distances and shadings, nearnesses and brilliances, topographies, delineations, and so in snow boots I alone in all that majesty walked, slowly, down, through, white, toward something that had to do with - a matter, I was sure, that in other moments I have deemed important somehow, and when I got to the car, which was mine, I opened the door with the key I happened to have at hand and started the engine as I remembered, shook my head to get back closer to this life of time and moments, having just been for some immeasurable measure among heavenly things...


Friday, February 07, 2014


PICKLE CROCK ROCK

Like Dirty Harry or some other manly man said - maybe it was Shane or Rhett Butler, though in slightly different words - Sometimes a man's gotta do what his wife says he's gotta do. 

How true, that truism, even in the middle of a heavy snowstorm up on a mountainside in modern-day Japan, where wintry impulses can drive wives in certain strange ways, one wife deciding, for no husbandly pinpointable reason, to make a big batch of daikon pickles the old-fashioned way using a traditional brown ceramic pickle crock of the kind seen out here in the countryside, which is all well and good, though this is one of those BIG pickle crocks - so big I could take a bath in it, but she'd kill me - and all is going well: the daikon are pared, sectioned, further smallified and laid out carefully to fill the crock, then the pickling stuff is added, until right at the end comes the crucial part, when a large, heavy weight is needed to place atop the mass of protopickles, weigh them down and in time compress them into full pickledom.

Thus it was that, as husband, I donned my heavy hooded snow jacket and my deep snow boots, shouldered my way out the door into the howling blizzard and began to wade through the snow (finally it snowed!) in search of  just the right rock. I knew it was out there somewhere beneath all that white: the rock of ideal weight, size and shape - lies flat, smooth, easy for a small woman to safely grip for lifting in and out of a big ceramic crock, yet heavy enough to compress a big batch of firm, but buoyant daikon slices.

Not many times in the lives of the dauntless men of history has one such rugged individual found himself pushing his way through a blinding blizzard with a big broom in one gloved hand and a conveniently sized whisk broom in the other, in search of the perfect rock for pickles. I'm fairly sure I may be a pioneer here - I seem to have a lot less daunt than I used to, and my boots are rugged - so I guess I was creating a new man-genre for the modern day, broadening the macho spectrum, setting the bar for picklers who come after, which is why I had the brooms, because foresight and optimization are key in these Indiana Jones situations, it’s a matter of survival, bottom line, in terms of both weather and uxorial relations, so in this case it helped a lot that I just happened to know where there were some excellent rocks out there in the howling blizzard beneath the deep snow - even as darkness was falling - and that some of those rocks might just meet the pickling parameters. So what if the Spring thaw reveals a big picklerock-shaped gap in the stone-wall-to-be; those will be new times, as all times are new, with new solutions visible to the naked eye elsewhere on the property. 

When I made it to where I thought the rock wall was (I didn't miss by much) I used the big broom to sweep the top row of rocks clear, then dusted to further detail with the whisk broom so I could assess the rocks in their individuality, much like a diamond merchant in Amsterdam. All men in snowstorms looking for that special picklerock for their wife can definitely use a good whisk broom; you can take that to the bank, so to speak, or write it down in case your wife... well, you know how these things happen, these torques of fate that launch you hunched over into a blizzard packing two brooms. Nothing new, right?

The pickles, which by the way rank in the upper echelons of probiotic aristocracy, are now fermenting in a downstairs closet.

Time to get back to doin' the things a man's gotta do. 


Wednesday, January 29, 2014


An Evening's Task


   From out of a sunny day it started snowing late this afternoon, and up here when it snows like this you want to go walking where you can feel the deeper depths of calm at the heart of the snowy forest, the calm we are born from, the calm that you hold in your open hands.

   In the forest quiet the snow goes on with its whispers to itself upon the ground, upon the trees.  As I wade up through the white that is falling everywhere, the way is still untraveled, the snow ahead untrammeled. Along the narrowing road through the snow-laden oaks, the smaller trees lean over from the weight, forming a tunnel toward even more whiteness. Above them rise empty trees with frosted limbs, reaching like their own ghosts into a silvering sky...

  I leave what is now a filling path and turn upon the rougher way upward along the noisy stream that gallops down among the icy rocks at the feet of the trees, and when I reach the source of our water I step with my high boots into the pushing cascade, begin to clear away a week's debris from the mountain above, and the water rises in our watercourse.

   After a few moments in that wild splashing at the heart of the silence, task completed I stand and look around me, listening, breathing the snow-edged air, taking it all in: the darkling sky, the biding trees, the stream, the thickening snow, the disappearing road, these clouds of breath, the passing of time, the season, the rooted stillness, like water being, like forest knowing, trees reaching, all yet to come alive again from the seeming silence, when Spring calls all the voices back to their places...

*
[Wrote this back before we got our deep well and had to take turns tending the mountain stream source of our water, and when there was snow like we used to have...]

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


ANGELS ALL OVER THE PLACE


When as grownups we fall and rise again, hopefully each time closer to the angels, it is to us a matter of integrity, of struggle and betterment, of progress and growth, the rooted aims of a living life...

And then later down the snows of time on an Asian mountainside, when of a blue winter morning at a certain age we observe our young descendants fall backward into the whiteness and make wings of their arms, laughing and unable to rise because it is so wondrous to lie there, warm and cradled in the soft cold, gazing up at the highest of sky from this perfect point of view, it is heartening to us elders beholding, in the simplest of ways, that true living is, at its heart, a matter of light...

As is so often the case I had different plans for today, but this time it snowed during the night, to my amazement and baffled surprise, this being late January-- or nowadays, early Spring. Until yesterday I had been under the strong impression that the balmy zephyrs would continue until the glaciers melted, inundating coastlines and shifting sea currents, unbalancing the earth and sending us whirling off toward maybe Mars, but some things never turn out the way you think they might.

So the trio and I spent the day not following Work Plan A, but rather shoveling off the deck and sledding for a while, I then leaning on the deck rail watching while the twins made angels in the snow below until there were angels all over the place, with angel faces in between, and we couldn't walk anywhere around the firewood without stepping on an angel.

Never had a better reason for calling it a day.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

TRIO PLUS THREE


Last weekend the crew  came over for a visit, so after a snack I put them to work helping me replenish the dwindling stack in the firewood holder up on the deck. Weather getting Siberiocold, but still no snow. Keeping pace with three sets of reaching young hands while handing chunks of firewood up to the deck, however, kept us all busy and warm, and in my case gave rise to new thoughts about aging. 

We had to pause now and then when I came to a chunk of wood that had a cadre of kamemushi (stink bug) huddling together on it, plotting some noxious action while sandbagging out of the wind; I had to clear them off before handing it on up. After 15 or so minutes of this I picked up a chunk, turned it over to check all sides and under the bark (kamemushi are sly, for all their malodor) and found a young gecko there, not shivering, but immobile. He was clinging to the wood for dear life, with not much of a future, given the new situation.

I held the piece high - gecko-side up - to piercing squeals of delight, the trio being avid gecko fans, all the more so for never being able to catch one during the warm days, when the wall-to-ceiling mini-dinosaurs are fully active, but the girls could pick this one up like a rubber toy, which they did. He wasn’t really stiff; he was minimally alive, in a hibernal way. After the necessary inspections, introductions etc., the three of us who still had geckoless hands eventually got back into the firewood rhythm, while the engeckoed member stood with cupped hands, as a little gecko head tried to poke its way out.

And so the work went on more slowly, yet of all things I soon found another gecko, which meant there were then only two of us working - one of us unhappily - until, karmic tool that I am, I found precisely a third gecko. Three was the magic number; the cosmos had known that, of course.  After that, the three girls had maybe one iffy hand each to work with and no power of focus to speak of; my firewood relocation program, like the local gecko hibernation regimen, went sideways from that point. I quickly gave up the idea of continuing alone, since just above my head were six hot little hands full of warming geckos that had to be named and nurtured back to life, rendering firewood work a matter for creatures on some distant planet. 

So inside we went, where each gecko holder put her no longer anonymous gecko (Mitsuki's gecko: Chocolat; Kaya's gecko: Chako; Miasa's gecko: Ebura) in a plastic box with air holes in it and I went to research online into whatever might be winter geckofood. Sometime toward evening Chako lost his tail, which he paid no attention to even as it lay wriggling  beside him in his new residence.

Later, when the trio plus three returned home, Chako escaped into the apartment and could not be found; the next day the Trio released Chocolat and Ebura into the lush environs around their place. A few days later they found Chako in the apartment, with a new tail!

As Grandparents and certain geckos know, there are some things you simply can’t plan for.


Friday, January 10, 2014


When I first looked up 
and saw the full moon -- 
The mind I had then 

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Snowball Fever


Here at high altitude in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, just over and up the snowcapped mountains from Kyoto - the old and sometimes snowy capital - even as three or more ice breakers are one by one being frozen into the Antarctic pack ice, the precipitation is falling steadily here on the mountainside today, as it has been since morning, the beautiful quieting whiteness delicately laying its soft, thick, ermine blanket over the countryside, festooning the trees and outlining the shapes of all the paddies in its... NOT! 

On January 8 it is NOT snowing, it is raining; it hasn't snowed yet this year, apart from a solo flake I think I saw one evening, which might have been a confused butterfly. But who ever said weather is fair? What’s worse, the pour is coming down as hard as if this were rainy season, which should have ended months ago; it’s even flooding in places, and if this were crisp dry snow it would be deep and way nicer, but noooo, it perverses to be wet, cold, rain and what can we say, we serial weather victims, what can we do about it and don’t give me that carbon footprint spiel if you don’t mind, it makes me want to throw a heavy snowball really hard, which those boat crews are probably doing a lot of in the Antarctic right now.   


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Year



Happy New Year!


2014
The Year of the Horse


Saturday, December 28, 2013



      TLDW


Monday, December 23, 2013

Heart's Horizons


We selected some healthy looking, good-sized vines about a half-inch thick at the base where they rose from among the thick mountain bamboo to latch onto the trunks and lower branches of cedars and oaks, then lace their way into the upper reaches. I clipped the chosen vines near the ground (3 vines and a backup).

 Then we put on our strong gloves, grabbed hold of the end of each vine and pulled hard - 4, 6, even all 8 hands at a time - then pulled again, then again with a "Heave-ho," and again, leaning backward in the middle of the road, pulling hard, bending the low branches! Shaking the whole tree! Then bending high branches! Then pulling more slowly as the high vine began to come away, even bending the whole tree sometimes!

Working together, pulling another long vine down out of a big cedar or oak tree -- pulling harder and harder as slowly the whole vine surrendered, at last coming away until it was laying in the road and Trio had done that great thing, with the high tree, all the way up the tree and now they had to handle that 15-meter vine from high in those branches-- Kids LOVE to do really BIG things!

 Kaya, Mitsuki and Miasa were going to make Christmas wreaths.

A couple of weeks before, while we were doing some winter prep work out in the garden and surrounds, Mitsuki had said, mid-task, out of the blue - as the Trio seems to do these days - that she wanted to make a wreath. I asked her where that idea had come from. She answered "Christmas!" which answered my question well enough; one can't really expect grown-up-minded explanations from little girls, who live so much in their hearts.

 Since the Trio and I were finished enough with our prep labors I went and got the clippers, a saw, a big basket and 8 strong gloves, then we went down the inner road, where I know there are a lot of longstanding, well-developed vines of fujii (wild wisteria) and akebi (akebia trifoliata) among the trees and bamboo.

 Once the vines were down, the Trio trimmed them, coiled them, tied them with the tendrils and put them in the basket, along with shiny clusters of holly leaves that also grow by the road. They got some good evergreen branches too, plus some perfect pine cones from my pine cone stash in the shed.

Back home, they got the tree ornaments and some ribbon from the closets, then sat out on the deck with the scissors and all those bright things scattered around them. I showed them how to choose a length for the wreath size they wanted, how to coil the strong vine into a wreath size, how to fix it here and there along its length using the thinner tendrils, and that this was the way you could make baskets too - fujii vine is great for baskets - then I went upstairs for a while to do some editing and forgot about the time--

 When it was growing dark I came downstairs into a silent house, saw the Trio still outside working even in the the darkling cold, engrossed in the task of crafting their very first wreaths, absorbed in the art of it. I just stood there watching the design ideas flow, turned on the lights when it began to get too dark. The Trio went on working until they were content with their basic wreaths and went inside to fine-tune the decorations.

 Natural ways, natural tasks involving natural interests like the endlessness of seeds, branches and flowers, insects and animals - instead of only brief gadgetry - simply confirm that there is no substitute for the natural reaches of life, the wellspring of thoughts and imaginings that lead always onward, with no end but the heart’s horizons.



In that spirit, Happy Holidays to All.