Saturday, October 07, 2006


SKY HORSES


The typhoon cutely named Shanshan, that was supposed to roll playfully northward at a harmless distance from Japan's Pacific coast like a meteorological panda cub, turned out to be a sky-sized Clydesdale that for much of the night put its big shoulder against our house and pushed the kind of push that makes you hunch up your shoulders and squint your eyes in expectation of a wall giving way.

I got my first inkling of its muscular approach yesterday evening when in the very calm weather at Kyoto Station I tried to change to my regular train and there wasn't one. There was quite a crowd there, and the shy lady announcer (who, it was clear, had unexpectedly been given the task) was nervously making whispery announcements about something or other over already blurry and inadequate speakers: "Mbwabwangssskkllklklffffttttmlorgshwaflangblimmmana, we apologize for any inconvenience…" (I could identify the last part by its rhythm and syntactic placement).

Turned out there was a train, sort of, down the track a ways, just sitting there. The usual train is 8 or 9 cars long, for a thousand or so people; this was a four-car train for much of the population of central Japan. I lived in Tokyo for several years during the days of the white-gloved, rush-hour commuter-pusher-guys, so I know how to weasel into a jammed train doorway, and I did. It wasn't pretty. Not much room to breathe afterward, though. Trouble was, about 50 people jammed on after me, till I thought I could hear train rivets popping.

Then we just sat there on the track, getting to know each other. According to what I could decipher from subsequent announcements, this train would only go halfway to my station (because it might get blown off the tracks if it really got out into the open on the elevated section). That was the first I heard of the wind.

At last we started, slowly, and traveled slowly, until a long time later - after a lot of ouching and public anguish - we finally arrived at the small terminal station all hermetically compressed into a mass of public unity. Then there was another jam as central Japan got off onto the tiny platform and went out into the weather to try and get home. I could have walked home in a couple of hours, but fortunately Echo wasn't out teaching yoga, so she could pick me up in the van.

Then up on the mountain the Clydesdale started pushing. It was interesting throughout the night. This morning we woke to what I call a pacing rain, that happens in the contrasting calm before and after typhoons: the rain is falling steadily, the uniform drops widely and evenly spaced with a bit of delicate fancy to them, like the steps of a well-trained horse, pacing along down the air.

Outside, everything around the house is in a different place; our roof looks like a cedar pincushion with branches wedged under the tiles. Now there's a stir of a normal breeze and a glitter of sun. Time to get out and clean up the stable.

6 comments:

Trace said...

Gorgeous picture! Love the entry...

Chancy said...

Glad you are OK

annie said...

Yes, so happy to hear you are both OK. There were news reports that a train in Miyazaki was lifted off the track! So glad it wasn't yours.

Mary Lou said...

You guys have been getting hit pretty regular lately havent you? Glad everything is safe! It missed the girls though, right?

Robert Brady said...

Thanks for your kinds words and concern folks; the wind is still trying to dominate all that would stay in place as the rising moon insists upon light through racing clouds; the girls received tons more rain than needed, but being three are strong. Went out today to mountain vilages and windblown chestnut farms... will post at some point...

Winston said...

So glad you are OK...

I am just catching up, having been held captive all day Saturday by NCAA football on TV. Is the strength of typhoons measured the same way we categorize hurricanes?