Thursday, October 23, 2003


Cutting and stacking firewood the past few days, I'd take a break every once in a while to harvest air potatoes (mukago), now in season. They are impossible to pass by once you notice them, particularly against a deep blue sky in the calm of evening's fall, hanging golden and purplish on their curling strings threading the air between the stalks of wild bamboo, into which I plunged here and there, plucking the little bead-of-silver globes, that weighed down my pockets more and more.

One enters a sacred air of serenity when accepting nature's proffered gifts, hung out over the road in places as if saying "Won't you have some? Please help yourself! Enjoy!" Les pommes de aire have always been harvested by mountain monks and used in shojin ryori, my favorite type of cooking. If I had to choose only one kind of diet to eat for the rest of my life, I would choose shojin ryori, each meal of which comprises a series of small and exquisitely, imaginatively and artistically prepared servings of simple seasonal foods, many of them harvested in the wild. A series of food-poems. Gustatory linked verse. And healthy too. We had some aire frites for lunch, fried in oil and soy sauce, and I'm only 39 years old now.

Here I am working all Summer and Autumn in my garden to grow my few special vegetables, and all the while the untended earth is growing trees and weeds and flowers and air potatoes too. It would do a great deal for our lives to stand up from the focus of our names and look around, eat now and then at nature's table, and say thank you. So that what is wild can be clearly seen and minded to, given the honor it is due.