Saturday, October 31, 2009


THE BIG PICTURE


SSo there I was back at home this evening following a longlabor afternoon of sectioning oak logs (ones I'd felled on Wednesday with H-san), to get branches and upper trunk segments of the right size for my next batch of shiitake logs, the rest to go for firewood. Got home worn out, unloaded the shiitake logs from the car and stacked them on the stones of the porch, not on the ground, so they don't get alienly inoculated by wild soil spores while I wait for the jumbo shiitake spore to come on the seasonal market.

Then because it's going to rain heavily tomorrow, I covered the treeshrugged firewood I wrote about earlier (no time for restacking today, busy morning, Echo off up north this AM to visit family) and did some other essential dayend stuff till everything was done, after which I shuffled tiredly up to the deck to go into the house and have some tea, chill out before dinner, when I realized I had to go around to the front-- I'd locked the house before I went out, and had only the front door key.

As I was plodding tiredly back across the deck and down the stairs, grumping in the base human way about the camel-straw troubles I have to go through, my motorcycle (parked by the corner of the deck) rose up in my field of vision and I realized I had to cover that too-- that was why I hadn't gone full-wittedly straight to the front of the house: I wouldn't have seen the uncovered motorcycle!

I knew this from the dialog that was echoing in my head: clearly a little godplay had gone on in wherever heaven is, an elder god saying to what sounded like a teenage apprentice deity:
"Brady forgot to cover his motorcycle again; make him absentmindedly go up on the deck and try to get into house that way so he'll have to come around the other way and see his motorcyle; then he can cover it before dark so it won't get rained on," and the teenager said:
"Me? Why me? Why do I get all the nothing jobs?"
"Because if you want to become a full-fledged god you'll do what you're told, that's why! If you don't, you'll wind up human again; is that what you want?"
"No, no, ok, I'll do it. Sorry, I-- I don't know what came over me."

Thus it was that I did what I did and was now ungrumped. I was made to cover my motorcycle cause it's gonna rain hard tomorrow, and the gods didn't want me to forget. So as I went around to the front door with everything now done, I sent some waves of thankthought heavenward so as to maybe ungrump that teenager, told her to hang in there. It helps to see the big picture.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


TREE SHRUGS


And I thought I was so smart. Wealth can do that to you. By wealth I mean firewood, which, to the frugal, is the same as money. In fact, for some time now I have been the Scrooge McDuck of firewood, but with no room left in the vault. Because of my growing wealth, even as I did the backstroke through my firewood holdings I was running out of storage space; then I realized that in addition to stacking my woody ingots in the usual way, I could use the many cedars that edge my property as single support ends for stacks! When that space too was used up, I realized that I could stack wood between the trees themselves, using two trees as both end supports, which was a great idea and expanded my outdoor vaultage considerably; but at the time, even at my age, I was unaware that trees shrug their shoulders so close to the ground.

I would come out some mornings after a windy night and see a firewood stack now scattered all over like pickup sticks and think: I didn't stack that right, must've been tilted so much that it was a windy pushover. So I'd restack it as level as an oak floor, but a month later, one morning it would be spread all over the ground again, even getting rained on sometimes - weather loves to add insult to injury - and I thought there must have been a hell of a wind during the night, near hurricanes do sometimes blow stacks over.

Then the big wooden nickel dropped: these recidivist stacks were all between trees. High up, the trees were shrugging in the wind, and the nanoshrugs down near the ground were slowly nudging the firewood toward instability, until... So I started tending to the stacks with my big wooden maul; every once in a while I'd make the rounds and pound the intertree stacks back into alignment. One evening a couple of days ago I noticed that one of the later longish stacks was bowed out at the top and would topple at the next high wind, so I intended to get at it the next day, which was yesterday - there were no winds coming up.

It rained hard all day, though, due to a hurricane far off the coast, with no wind here, so I decided to wait for another day. But last night the tail of the hurricane lashed us briefly after dark and there must have been considerable arboreal shrugging, till around 11 o'clock at night as I was getting ready for bed I heard a big crash outside like the high-speed collision of two heavily loaded giant marimba trucks. I started to say what the hell was that, but only got to about wha- when I realized what it was. This morning, when I went out to head for work in the Big City, there in my garden lay the wreckage of dozens of giant marimbas.

Tomorrow I'll restack all those ingots somewhere beyond the reach of tree shrugs. Labor is the better part of wealth anyway.

Monday, October 26, 2009


HAPPY ONIONS


Yesterday after some early morning gardening, while I was busy editing the doorbell rang; it was Mr. H. from Uji, who has some land upmountain. He had stopped by to ask if I wanted any rice straw. He was taking a whole truckful from his home paddy up to use on his garden, and had more straw than he needed, so he stopped by.

I don't have a rice paddy, but I've always kept an eye out for any rice straw lying around that was clearly abandoned, which is the same thing as saying I've never had any rice straw. The rice stalks left over after threshing are an excellent groundwarmer and natural fertilizer, commonly used on the vegetable fields of rice farmers. You can buy it at the farm store in bags for about must be a dollar an ounce, but that's mainly for folks in apartments with patio gardens, where a few ounces is enough.

It was also good that Mr. H. had stopped by because, as he is a heavy duty power-shoveling big rock-moving kind of landscaper, and has let me have a lot of firewood from his lands, in small recompense I had mail-ordered a pair of steel-toed rubber boots for him from Gempler's, so now I could give them to him. He has a great smile.

After we'd unloaded and piled up some rice straw next to the garden, he said that today he was going to fill in a slope up there on some old residential land he'd just bought and was restoring, so needed some straggler trees cleared, and did I have time to get started today, I said sure, and so it was that instead of editing words I wound up editing the landscape, felling, bucking and loading firewood both morning and afternoon, a welcome change from raw syntax.

It's raining today, so I get to do some overdue editing, but looking out the window at the new cord of wood beside all the bales of rice straw, I just had the thought: that straw will sure make the onions happy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


WHERE IS MY MIND
?

I love it when, like last night after a long day in the office, on the train home I'm sitting among all the staid salarymen of mostly older years who live outside the city, and after listening to an elderhoodly interesting podcast on history or science I suddenly have a craving for some mindscouring tunerush so I dive into for example the Pixies' Surfer Rosa, one of my dozens of top 10 albums ever, with Bone Machine for starters, get down, and Where Is My Mind not long after, whoa, I crank it UP, let's wail, and all at once the nearer heads turn to see what that odd new tiny pounding and screaming noise is, and wonder why those little drumsounds and microriffs are squealing out of my silverhaired head as factoids of puzzlement begin crawling all over their faces: what is this casually dressed, ponytailed elder with two gold earrings listening to?

Other earphoners my age are mellowing out to classical music perhaps, or maybe golden oldies from the Heian era, some koto tunes, catchy J-pop items of the 1930s or kabuki music, who knows, I can't hear it, but you can bet your last guitar pick they ain't listening to anything like the Pixies, who rule this particular train.

"Where is my mind, where is my mind, wheeeeere is my mind...
Waaaaay out on the water, see it swimming..."

Total.
***

In which connection, a GenX take on this reality:
Why Our Parents Were Cooler Than We Are Now
When They Were Our Age


Friday, October 23, 2009


FILM ON DOLPHIN HUNT STIRS OUTRAGE IN JAPAN; TOKYO FILM FESTIVAL COPS OUT


"Despite the film’s enthusiastic reception at the festival — a round of applause broke out at the end of the film — it is unclear whether it will spark a wider public debate. Whale and dolphin hunting is considered an important part of Japan’s traditional livelihood and culinary culture, a practice to be defended against foreign interference — even though only a minority of Japanese eat whale meat, and even fewer eat dolphin.

The Tokyo Film Festival initially rejected 'The Cove' as too controversial, but reversed its decision at the last minute after lobbying from Hollywood heavyweights like Ben Stiller, who has taken a personal interest in it. The festival, however, screened a disclaimer stating it had nothing to do with the film’s production.

'The feeling here is that the world needs to respect cultural differences,” said Testsu [sic] Sato, a professor in environmental management at Nagano University. 'Why should there even be a debate on this issue?'" Full NY Times article

That's not the feeling everywhere. The same argument has long been used to preserve cultural traditions that are today widely acknowledged to be abominations. Some cultures abominate longer than others.

And "eco" is THE buzzword in Japan nowadays...! Even politicians use it!



Thursday, October 22, 2009


BIG RED LIPS


Today after lunch I came back to the office carrying a suspicious-looking bag with odd bulges in it that contained, if you must know, pairs of big red lips, big red-tipped noses, round red clown noses and a few masks.

They weren't for my own use - my Groucho glasses days are pretty much over, now that I look a lot like Groucho the elder as is - nor were the items for a bank job or anything, no anonymous escapade - though right off I can think of at least a dozen capers that would be cool and interesting, if societally questionable under the alien circs - fact is, I got these goodies for granddaughter Halloween chuckles. I'll add them to the EccentriCare package Echo is sending to the wee ones tomorrow.

I'm just doing my part to nurture the eccentric aspects of their individual natures, which will be severely challenged by their education. I made it through my education and was able to reassemble pretty well, and I hope they can too. It helps to have help when the other side is so vast and well agenda'd from way before your lifetime. I was going to say that it will be harder for them here in Japan, but I was educated in deep Catholic schools all the way through high school, so maybe it will be easier for them. Still, big red lips and a Groucho mask can go a long way toward restoring and maintaining the broad center that personal freedom stands strongest on.

I wasn't much tempted to put the goodies on and wear them into the office, though the thought did cross my mind, for thoughts do pretty much what they want in there, but anyway I've already done that stuff. After all, I have a reputation to uphold here, whatever it may be, I 'm not sure exactly, there are so many possibilities, this being a way foreign culture and all, but I suspect thick red lips or glasses and a eye-opening mustache would do little to enhance my reputation as a guy who frequently does that kind of stuff already.

Besides, I bought them for the granddaughters, who are still young enough to not know about somber office reps and suchlike. That breadth of freedom must be nourished early so it may survive the coming rigors, and the centers of themselves be made as large as they can make them before the balancing begins.

For that, you need your own fresh pair of big red lips, not ones your grandfather wore.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


THE LONG SURPRISE


From an unknown depth it rises, the delight it always is when the garlic first comes up, my surprise no doubt as ancient as the life the garlic holds, that just a week ago I planted in broken-up cloves and went on gardening day-to-day here and there, doing the little winter-readying tasks, until one afternoon I glance down at where there had been only earth, where now are small green tongues pushing up to sample anew this ancient reality, to speak of being, take some nourishment, gain some strength that in us is courage, to push further into days toward the wholeness each contains, every rising life a tiny measure of the long surprise.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Crow in cedar
beside open window
diggin' Stan Getz

Saturday, October 17, 2009


JAPAN ENVIRONMENTAL EXCHANGE

2010 ECO-CALENDAR NOW OUT


"J.E.E. stands for Japan Environmental Exchange. It is a citizens' non-profit organization dedicated to environmental education. J.E.E. disseminates information on environmental issues and carries out international exchanges between people working for the environment. In addition to publishing our annual Eco-Calendar, J.E.E. also publishes and distributes High Moon's GOMIC, eco-cartoon book series, as well as his book of essays and cartoons about the environment, Picturecology.

We also put out a monthly information sheet, hold Green English classes and discussions, perform an original environmental puppet theater that stars the "Eco-neko".
J.E.E. carries a range of environmentally- friendly goods such as chopstick pouches , organic coffee from East Timor, fair trade handicrafts, and T-shirts and cloth shopping bags with delightful illustrations by High Moon on them. Please consider becoming a member or making a purchase to support our activities!"

Friday, October 16, 2009


SUCCESSFULLY NOT CLEANING THE STOVEPIPE


Managed for a whole nother weekend not to clean the stovepipe: not bad for a guy whose primary weekend mission for approximately the past month has been to clean the stovepipe.

That same steadfastness of purpose kept me from getting a full-time job for almost 20 years after college; it has served me well, and it's something I never learned in school. I feel that steadfastness to be something far more ancient than such contrivances as schools and jobs, and at least as primitive as humanity itself.

It is said that aboriginal man actually labors for subsistence only 1/3 of the time; the rest is spent in whatever manner in that culture is best suited, metaphorically speaking, to not cleaning the stovepipe.

However, it is getting colder, and we will need to use the stove pretty soon, plus there's a three-day weekend coming up, or so the ants in me keep telling the grasshopper in me; this might therefore be the ideal time to really push the envelope regarding not cleaning the stovepipe.

Me and aboriginal humans, we're like this (two fingers twisted together like DNA).

Thursday, October 15, 2009


YOU HAVEN'T BEEN LISTENING


When you're talking to yourself and you realize you haven't been listening, then one or both of you has to make an adjustment. Either you have to become more interesting, less of a mealy-mouthed drone and more of a discerning speaker with a spellbinding style that captivates you, or you have to learn how to pay considerate attention and listen intelligently, instead of mind-meandering all over the place while you're trying to make a point.

Conversely, you can maybe stop talking to yourself so much and start talking more to other distinctly individual persons, or you can just shut up for a while and see if you feel like you're really missing anything. Maybe in the meanwhile take some elocution classes, or join a listening-impaired focus group. Or both.

This realization came to me yesterday when I was soloing the usual drive along the Lake and got to speaking out loud on something I was thinking about, when at some point realized I wasn't listening to what I'd been saying (merely polite and distracted responses), like I was some obnoxious chatperson on the train I had to indulge-- and I was doing it all by myselves.

We truly do like solitude, but we can go too far.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


THE TORCH OF COOL


During the Inquisition that was my teenage days, now way back there in mythohistory along with Achilles, Thermopylae and all that other stuff I've forgotten about since high school, I remember being puzzled as to why the grownups, then perceived as the nearly dead, were so revolted by my super-slick D.A. haircut with a rattail in front, my cherry-red sweater-vest with the black-gray-and-white-striped border over my knockout black shirt with the gold front panel tucked into my ultracool slim-belted 14-inch-pegged white flannel slacks with rattail comb sticking out of the back pocket, the pantcuffs breaking perfectly on my high-sided ox-blood cordovan ducks with a diamond shine. I couldn't figure out the attitude of the nearly dead, in the microseconds I gave it any thought. But in the fundamental certainty that unites all teenagers I was sure that anyway the old was gone forever and the new was here to stay. This was it. The style was set in stone.

I'd be wearing pegged pants and cordovan ducks and a DA haircut when I was 80, and my kids and their kids would too, all the way to the end of time, because who would ever need more than life requires, which is to be the coolest of the cool for as long as possible? And when at last one light-years-distant day I had miraculously reached the ancient age of fifty, I wouldn't have to manifest the revulsion I saw every day on the faces of the nearly dead of the 1950s toward the hypercool duds of the new era.

But now I've reached that half-century mark that was once so far away, the hair's a bit thin for a DA and rat-tail, even if I had the desire, not to mention the time, the grease and the warped sense of history, to create them; 14-inch pegged pants, I'd have to let them out at the waist and thighs, probably even the ankles; and red sweater vest over black gold-panel shirt, forget it, I haven't got the body for that, let alone an interest in defending garments. What's more, I haven't seen a pair of cordovan ducks in a shoe store for over fifty years now; and anyway, why the hell would I want to look like a 50's teenager in my 60s? And who would know but other sixty-year-olds from Elm Street? Wherever they are now.

Besides, now that I've passed my Achilles-equivalency and had hands-on experience with the Thermopylae factor, and having realized all too clearly that I myself am now one of the nearly dead-- in other words, now that I perceive (as only the nearly dead can) the fingerpoppin' transience of things, especially teenagers and teenage fads, I stop and look at the teenagers grungeing along around me, the females dressed like Crazy Jane with their hair done to look like they've just been saved from drowning, the guys with hair like somebody ran their heads through wet concrete, their bodies layered in torn t-shirts hanging out of these at-the-knees pants you could catch a cow in one leg of that end cuffless above shoes my great grandfather would have thought the ultimate in style and I can't help it: I want to say something dissuasive to these little boys as they slag down the street like the ultimate rag men, I want to say something corrective to these little girls walking by like 14-year-old bag ladies, but what for? Teenagers can't hear, as I remember.

So instead, like King Lear I cry to the darkening sky, 'Whatever happened to sharpness?' To the rains and the winds I shout, 'Where is the cool of yesteryear?' But the weather does not answer, any more than it did for Lear or my father or his father before him, when they too stood stumped on the doorstep and watched the kids go beyond reach reach in some incomprehensible fashion, and it comes to me that each new group, in stepping out thus, flares then in its one bright moment of flaming (or smouldering) youth before growing into age, in its turn bearing the torch of the one true style into eternity; that maybe only great grandfathers in the great beyond can look at what kids wear nowadays and smile, smile at how it has all come round again, just like they always knew it would, to one the true style, the way it is in heaven.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


THE GIANT KID


Hurricane #18 (seems they don't give them names anymore, which makes it difficult to talk hurricane history around here: was that the #18 of 1987, 1992 or 2009?) came through last night like a giant kid through a roomful of new toys, some of those toys being my house, garden and general vicinity.

Needless to say, the kid a made a giant mess, though among that mess was a bunch of big fat chestnuts I saw all over the ground this morning while touring the scene in the accompanying downpour.

Another thing I have to thank the big kid for is the fact that the trains weren't running this morning; despite my desperate efforts, there was no way for me to get to my beloved office. Heartbreaker, believe me, to sit home sipping tea and weeping for lack of purpose.

Yesterday afternoon I was out gathering in the last of the pumpkins and the butternut squashes before the big messy kid could get his airy hands on them. Turned out though, that the kid may have been hyper in the whirly way, but was hypo in terms of moving ahead; he didn't get here till about 4 am, when he woke me up with a Niagara of rain, heavily punctuated by an hours-long series of shingle-rattles and downed-branch thumps, heavy objects blowing from wherever throughout the night, e.g., the big snow scoop bumblewending its way along behind the house till it finally reached the toolshed with a closing bang. Came morning and it was clear that the landscape around our our humble home had been one of nature's battlefields.

Tokyo and northward is the battleground now; by tonight there will be atmospheric calm all over the country, though another giant kid might be coming around any day now.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


ONE PERSIMMON


Harvests all in, fields a golden-brown stubble spiked with green as the days edge into Autumn, skies a blue only leafless trees can bear, leaves gone earliest from the persimmon trees till just the orange balloons of fruit cluster up there in the blue intensity like amber in turquoise, fruit that stays on the tree for the birds to eat throughout the winter (beautiful on country winter days, with its own blue of sky, are those stark brown trees with their arms full of persimmons in the sun when all else is white or dark on the earth).

But the old country folks still eat persimmons too. Late this afternoon as the day headed toward its close I was walking up the road and passed by an elderly man dressed in brown like the fields and the leaves, both hands full of the gold of the large persimmon he'd picked from his tree; he stood there eating it by the roadside, his mouth full of the same goldenness, savoring that juicy sweetness you lose the taste for if you're jaded by factory sweets, on his face a look of pleasure surpassing any description of happiness, and he was only halfway through! What a sight he was, beside a country road in the sunlight of an Autumn afternoon, lost in ageless joy. Who can have more than that?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


THE CHESTNUT THIEF


This year we had a bumper chestnut crop because of the heavy rains, which not only pumped up the tree, but also helpfully kept down the insects that usually spoil many of the chestnuts. In a normal year at least 30% are unusable; this year we had twice the usual crop, but only about 5% insected. Delight comes in infinite forms.

Thus it was that on the first morning of the heavy chestnut fall I gathered a bucketful of the thoroughbred beauties, then two mornings later (workday in between) I came out to do some other gardening work and the ground was covered with sleek brown gems gleaming in the morning sun, where they had bounced out of the spiky burst husks, all that hearty tastefulness and nutrition just lying there to be picked up. I forgot about the other work (a groundful of ready chestnuts is irresistible) and went about just picking up the free good ones, leaving those that were still in their husks, and got another bucketful. I left the ones in the husks because I knew that the Chestnut Thief was coming.

Sure enough, that afternoon I was planting potatoes and heard behind me "Kuri no dorobo kimashita!" ("The Chestnut Thief has arrived!") It was Ms. T, our upmountain neighbor, who lives in Kyoto but has a plot of land here on the mountain that she tends once or twice a week (a lot of tara-no-me there). On her way back home she often stops by our place to pick some wild herbs (we have a lot of fukinoto and mitsuba) and, every year about now, to garner the last of the fallen chestnuts. We chatted as we worked at our tasks for about an hour (she said an inoshishi (wild pig) had uprooted one of her herb beds, looking for earthworms). When she left our place she had a big bag filled with chestnuts to help make up for it.

Speaking of chestnuts, I saw on an organic gardening forum somewhere the question "Can I add chestnut husks to my compost pile?" The answer is yes, but first let the husks dry out enough, then rake them into a pile and burn them, tending the fire to watch out for (and keep out of the way of) any exploding chestnuts; then throw the ashes on the compost pile. If left to decay on their own, the spikes take a couple of years to disintegrate; you don't want to get stabbed by surprise in the meanwhile. Having a chestnut thief helps make the whole process easier.

Then you make one long slit across the 'crown' of a handful of chestnuts, roast them in the oven for a few minutes, take them out and you have a crowd of waraigumi (laughing chestnuts), sitting there all wobbly and laughy, ready to crack open and eat. Kids love the happy creatures.

Monday, October 05, 2009


PINECONING


If you're going pineconing (gathering a lot of pine cones), it's best to be accompanied by three young grandgirls. The grandies are especially handy if you're in your late sixties, when walking along scanning the ground while bending over and straightening up 600 times per hour or so doesn't hold much interest.

I can gather pine cones as well as the next elder guy, though, so I can get the job done when it comes to the crunch, but I'd rather stand and from the vantage of my full height direct the young ones (six hands!) to the best clusters of pinecones. They gather them so well because no one understands and appreciates pinecones like little kids do, new lives who can clearly see the magic in those little woody fireworky things. The little hands gather them up like treasure for no reason at all, so its a double delight to be doing it for a purpose that pleases loving grownups! Look how many I have in my bag! Bottom line though, they don't even need a purpose; they just need pine cones. Alas, I'm only daydreaming; the grandies are up north this time. How they would have loved it!

As it happened, Echo and I were still a bit early for pineconing, though not nearly as early as we were last week; quite a few more of the spiky wights had been brought down by the night wind. We use pinecones, as I've pointed out in previous pine cone excursion posts, as firestarters in our winter woodstove. They're beautiful, practical, functional and best of all, free. No. Best of all they give you an excuse to visit the near-empty beaches along this side of the Lake and walk beneath the old pine trees in the autumn wind.

The few kids from the city who are with their families at the pine beaches this time of year, especially the little girls (they love to gather free stuff and neaten the beach at the same time), who fill bags with pinecones, then at the end of the day as they head for the car to go home with their bags of treasure are told to dump them, because what in the world is a parent going to do with bags full of pinecones in a small apartment in the city?

So it happened that when we got to Omimaiko, the mother lode of pineconing, there was a girl there about 10 years old beneath the pines unhappily emptying her bag of hard-earned pinecones, kneeling on the sand and taking each bit of magic out of her big full bag, looking at it and tossing it over either shoulder or somewhere out in front of her, apparently trying to be mother nature by recreating a natural scattering, all the while talking to herself or perhaps to the pinecones she was having to surrender so unhappily-- she was delighted therefore when grownup Echo approached her with her own pine cone bag and, asking the why of it, said she would take the pinecones home herself, if that was ok.

And so we set to the largely pleasant task. Generally it's only kids - who still have that pure sense of amazement - that gather pinecones, though now and then there's an adult who sets out to gather pinecones for some legitimate, adultifiable reason (usually rooted in amazement, nonetheless). As the adult proceeds at the task, however, he becomes to a surprising extent the kid he used to be, the kid for whom pinecones were the jewels they really are, and worth gathering for that reason alone! How could he ever have forgotten that?

Sunday, October 04, 2009


SOBA
NOODLES CLASS IN TOKYO

I've been a big a soba (buckwheat noodles) fan ever since I came to Japan, and Echo comes from Shinshu (Nagano Prefecture), one of, if not the, renowned soba sources in Japan. "Shinshu soba" is a magic phrase. When we travel, we're always on the lookout for authentic local soba restaurants. Here is an excellent photographic and explanatory detailing of the soba noodle-making process, "one of the most spectacular cooking skills one can hope to learn in Japan." And with an English-speaking sensei (teacher)!

Friday, October 02, 2009


NON-SEQUEL TO THE MONKEY THAT WASN'T ACTUALLY CHASING THE WOMAN WITH THE DOG STORY

From the archives, October 2002

Passing by O's house on our way to a hike up the mountain, saw the monkey who had chased the woman with the dog, the monkey's presence in the middle of the road now eliciting from O the factual finish of that story I'd heard from E about the pounding on the door one day that turned out to be Mrs. T from upmountain, who had been out walking and had asked permission to cross our land to get to the other road to help a woman walking her dog who was being chased by a monkey. I'd never heard any more of the story, until now here was the very monkey!

It turned out that the monkey liked dogs (which is why it was at that moment hanging around O's dogs) and had in fact simply been trying to be friendly with the dog the woman was walking, the monkey approaching the dog, whose owner drew away, causing the dog to also draw away and the monkey to again approach, more earnestly, a cycle that quickly escalated into what was perceived as fleeing woman with dog being chased by monkey, the fear thus eliciting its cause...

Anyway, here before us now was the very same monkey, a young female apparently not tribally minded, that as we approached at first withdrew into the roadside trees and sat in a tree crotch near the road very quietly and at home as in an easy chair, legs dangling, not feeling at all comical sitting in a tree by the side of the road-- not that it should feel comical of course, it's just that the monkey's complete lack of the comical sense was comical in that circumstance; anthropomorphism has many layers.

Later, on our way back downmountain from our hike, because we came bearing many wild persimmons we were well appreciated by the monkey, who drew close at our approach; while talking again with O we gave the monkey one ripe persimmon, which she took off to her roadside hangout to eat so that we wouldn't get any, and when she was finished rejoined us as we stood there in the road talking: two women, one man and a she-monkey, standing there in a tight-knit and mutually interested group, the monkey on her haunches part of the conversation, insofar as it might pertain to persimmons, looking from human to persimmon to human and SMILING, baring her little baby-human monkey adult dentition at us in what could only be humanly interpreted as the kind of abashed smile one uses when poorly concealing desire in a question, such as "Isn't the persimmon a wonderful fruit?"

But the monkey's eyes remained unchanged while the smile was flashing on and off like a neon sign, and I was plunged thereby to the roots of our own smiles, the monkey now and then stepping aside a moment to look down into the roadside grating just in case there might be something down there more worthwhile than a human conversation, then back to join us again, and I suppose somewhere deep in our depths we all wanted to go over and look down into that grating, see what was down there, but we didn't, we're grownup humans after all, we just talked and smiled at each other now and then, after persimmons of some kind...

Thursday, October 01, 2009


BIG WHISPER


The sound of the rain as it falls on the forest around the house at night is like the big whisper of a shoreless ocean, the heartbeat of the sky, a rhythmic symphony wafting through the open window as the water cascades in waves that fall on the reach of the trees. Clearly they are ancient familiars.

I who am new to the big family lie half asleep in the night by the window, washed over by the long sound of the falling water as it whispers old secrets to leaves, rocks, grasses and soft earth, uncountable droplets resolving their long journey from high inside clouds lit up by occasional lightning, that captures in its shock to my darkened eye the whole gigantic affair happening up there, the darker darkness closing then around the vision captured, to take with me on a soul's dream journey through the silvery music that fills the darkness, as I rise into the sky...