From the Archives: April 6, 2002
Coming back from the local country dentist (who is a very good dentist by the way, and cares much about his patients as individuals, unlike the high-turnover blurry dentists in the assembly line at the big clinic way up in a high building in the heart of the city), I decided not to take the main and faster highway back home, but to meander a bit in search of the kind of moments one can only come upon in mid-meander, and so took the narrow winding road along the Lake.
I would thereby also get to see the old thatched-roof cottage again, where the beauty of its aged wood and the stone path to the door were discreetly revealed by elegant bamboo fences and the gracefully sloping arms of ancient red pines, and I could feel that old spirit, one of those last embers of the old Japan, like sitting close to a fading loved one, moving closer to a dying fire.
It was a beauty of a day, more like spring than early February, the Lake on my left meandering too (large bodies of water pretty much do as they wish), along the very road, elbowing in where it could its sapphire beauty. I tended to go slowly, it's impossible to meander at high speed, and anything more than an amble is a waste of meander. So I often had to pull over to allow passage of folks bizarrely in a hurry on a slow road, likely in haste as well to get through life itself.
Then I was at the turnoff for home, and hadn't seen the old cottage, so I turned around and went back. In its discreetness, the shy place sometimes evades the seeker with the mildest distraction. I looked carefully, but still couldn't find it; then I found that where it had been was now a pile of dirt and rock and torn-up moss with a caterpillar tractor beside it, all surrounded by a temporary fence.
The centuries-old red pines were gone, the moss-bordered stone pathway was gone, the thatched roof was gone, the old house was gone. I felt my throat close up, it was very like a death I was feeling, that I would never see that old house again and wonder at its history and be inspired, or admire the beauty of its building, sense the strength of its long long time right there before me now.
Likely there would be a quick new factory-made lakeside cottage going up there soon, take a couple of weeks to build, model B perhaps, maybe model D. Thus do souls starve and die, in worlds without spirit.