Friday, January 30, 2004



Freewheeling down the mountain on my motorcycle this morning on the way to the only train straight to Osaka, I was taking a bit more time than usual on the way down so that I could savor the incredible herb fragrance that the Spring-sensing earth was pushing up out of the ground in response to the warm mist that was flowing down from the mountains and fogging the roadcurve mirrors.

I rode slowly through the perfume, taking deep breaths trying to identify the components-- I'd love to try some of them in my cooking-- but it was all a seamlessly perfect blend, sort of an oreganobasilcoffeethymemintrosemarylemonbalmvioletbaymarjoramhoney kind of fragrance, if you know what I mean.

So there I was on my two wheels rolling, just gliding out of the lower reach of the mist, right about where the old half-acre of virgin forest used to be, in the middle of the rice paddies (that was clear cut to make room for the prefab office of the Paving Nature to Perfection Co., which brings concrete to the concrete-starved areas of the countryside, such as rivers, mountains and lakes), when out of the corner of my eye I saw one of the rice paddies move.

That's right: the entire brown-stubbled field was moving.

Though I was on a motorcyle, I knew right away that it wasn't an earthquake, because only one paddy was moving; all the other paddies were still. I squinted through the residual mist as I drew closer and saw what it really was: a monkey kindergarten. There must have been a hundred monkeys out there, same color as the paddy, most of them new babies that just freaked and ran toward the woods at sight of a round-footed creature such as myself gliding so sinisterly toward them. The many mothers just yelled at the kids "Get back here, there's nothing to be afraid of, it's just a guy on a motorcycle, the one with the onions and pumpkins..."

The veteran grandma lookouts lined the edge of the paddy by the road chewing their roots, just watching me go by, ho-hum, "Say, isn't that the fellow who used to do onions? I heard he's getting some nice tomatoes this year, wonder if he'll do onions again that was so convenient," and such like simian grandma gossip. It was probably the first time for the kids to get out of the trees and onto a nice safe, flat, clear piece of land, whence their elders could point out future sources of food, such as myself. I didn't stay long, out of fear I might be interviewed for the Simian Times. Definitely no onions this year, and I see dark days ahead for my tomatoes.

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