Friday, October 31, 2008


ENOUGH TO BE AN ISLAND


Out on the Lake there is a tiny island just a few meters wide, on days like today sitting on the surface like a thick, dark cookie on a silverblue baking sheet. I've passed close by it on boats and am always surprised by its tininess-- it seems to grow bigger in the mind.

I have also seen at the Lake Biwa Museum, in a scale geological model of the Lake bed, how that mini-island - like most of the larger islands that dot the Lake - is but the point of a tall needle of once-liquid volcanic rock, eons ago thrust upward from the core of the earth, reaching now through far deeps of water to barely touch the surface enough to be an island. Likely the island was once much higher than the cookie it is now, and will disappear below the surface before too geologically long. These molten facts are reflected in the mountains around the Lake, which comprise the timeworn caldera of an ancient volcano.

Most days that little island, because of its size, is invisible; even the slightest haze or shadow of cloud erases it, to say nothing of water-reflected light. But on certain rare days like today, when water, air and light combine in just the right way, the Lake appears to end about halfway across, as natural currents turmoil the near waters and tranquilize the far, and there the island appears: not atop the water, like the usual island, but floating in the sky, high above the apparent surface of the Lake.

If I didn't know the true distance to the far shore, that floating island would be as inexplicable as any other miracle around here.

2 comments:

Elizabeth (Beth) Westmark said...

I love your musical words here. . . "like a thick, dark cookie on a silverblue baking sheet."

Bob Brady said...

Thanks, Elizabeth; now that you point it out, it does have a nice kind of music to it...