Wednesday, July 31, 2002


Well the house was certainly tested last night! Major typhoon breezed by and blew everything around at about a 150 kilometers an hour all night, and when morning came we were still here, and so was here; everything had been blown about several hundred kilometers southward.

All day Saturday I'd been checking the tv for information about this palpable steadily rising wind, but all I could get was personalities failing to answer dumb questions on quiz shows, or cooking their favorite heart-attack food; not a WORD about any typhoon until late night weather. Heard earlier from the BBC on my shortwave that Japanese authorities said it was the strongest typhoon to hit Japan in 50 years.

Next day, as the typhoon approached Tokyo, though, they had hours of tv coverage, with on-the-spot reporters reporting stalwartly from beside the monstrously threatening ocean, raincoats over their Giorgio Armanis. As for us, real estate billboard down across the road, trees down on property on other side. Our trees are all ok; no damage here. But what gusts! Strongest I've ever felt (except on Okinawa 35 years ago)!

There were several waterspouts on the Lake at a time; I could see the gusts coming, and their size; saw a bird flying with all his might and going backward at a good clip; by the end of the day he must have had to fly all night to get back to where he'd started.

I went out into the jaws of the storm at around dawn and got ground down, couldn't easily stand up; the air was smooth and fresh though, as if it had been scrubbed and massaged by mountain forests on its way to me. Now after noon, and gusts still occasionally strong.

During the night the wind was like a big furry beast suddenly slamming against the house in its flight and then stopping there, leaning harder and harder against the walls and letting out a banshee wail that set the shingles clacking; then it left, and moments later another soft firm beastly WHUMP and groans of strain that strove to smooth its way. The wind is at heart a lazy beast.

I was moved to go out and pull the van a little further into shelter, it was rocking so; I was beginning to be afraid it would blow over on its side. I'd been wondering how well the house with its big front and big windows would stand up to a strong, straight-on hurricane; found out that it did real well.

At work on Monday, fellow workers said that their typhoons were barely noticeable but for a bit of noise and wind, and that's the way I remember typhoons being when I lived in the city, a change in the weather that lives outside. But out there in nature, in my typhoon, when I went outside at dawn to move the van and stood out in the wide expanse of the valley with plants and small animals flying by, it was like standing on the roof of a car going 150 kph, except I and the mountains and trees and fields were all traveling together on the roof of a very big car.

Also I saw a regular car on the highway with a windsurf board on top heading toward the Lake and thought "that guy is crazy," and later with the binoculars saw a guy out there in the whitewhirlingwildwater on a redsail board having what must have been the time of his life, then the wind would turn abruptly on its heel and he'd be ground into the water, but when he was going he was GOING, his board wasn't even touching the water, he was flying, gaining considerable height above sea level, I should imagine.

Later, on the news I heard there was a windsurfer missing on the Lake; the way he'd been traveling, it's just as likely he hit a building, or wound up in another prefecture. I realize now though that most of my own reaction was over-reaction; little old farm ladies scootering up the mountain through airborne branches to check on the rice; old paddy shacks with tin roofs built years ago completely unscathed by the winds; looking at them you'd expect them to go in a small gust, but I guess like the natives, having lived here all these years they know how the weather is shaped and what it requires in the way of surrender, and so get along well enough with typhoons, which by nature are generally not friendly with anything.