Wednesday, January 29, 2014

An Evening's Task

   From out of a sunny day it started snowing late this afternoon, and up here when it snows like this you want to go walking where you can feel the deeper depths of calm at the heart of the snowy forest, the calm we are born from, the calm that you hold in your open hands.

   In the forest quiet the snow goes on with its whispers to itself upon the ground, upon the trees.  As I wade up through the white that is falling everywhere, the way is still untraveled, the snow ahead untrammeled. Along the narrowing road through the snow-laden oaks, the smaller trees lean over from the weight, forming a tunnel toward even more whiteness. Above them rise empty trees with frosted limbs, reaching like their own ghosts into a silvering sky...

  I leave what is now a filling path and turn upon the rougher way upward along the noisy stream that gallops down among the icy rocks at the feet of the trees, and when I reach the source of our water I step with my high boots into the pushing cascade, begin to clear away a week's debris from the mountain above, and the water rises in our watercourse.

   After a few moments in that wild splashing at the heart of the silence, task completed I stand and look around me, listening, breathing the snow-edged air, taking it all in: the darkling sky, the biding trees, the stream, the thickening snow, the disappearing road, these clouds of breath, the passing of time, the season, the rooted stillness, like water being, like forest knowing, trees reaching, all yet to come alive again from the seeming silence, when Spring calls all the voices back to their places...

[Wrote this back before we got our deep well and had to take turns tending the mountain stream source of our water, and when there was snow like we used to have...]

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


When as grownups we fall and rise again, hopefully each time closer to the angels, it is to us a matter of integrity, of struggle and betterment, of progress and growth, the rooted aims of a living life...

And then later down the snows of time on an Asian mountainside, when of a blue winter morning at a certain age we observe our young descendants fall backward into the whiteness and make wings of their arms, laughing and unable to rise because it is so wondrous to lie there, warm and cradled in the soft cold, gazing up at the highest of sky from this perfect point of view, it is heartening to us elders beholding, in the simplest of ways, that true living is, at its heart, a matter of light...

As is so often the case I had different plans for today, but this time it snowed during the night, to my amazement and baffled surprise, this being late January-- or nowadays, early Spring. Until yesterday I had been under the strong impression that the balmy zephyrs would continue until the glaciers melted, inundating coastlines and shifting sea currents, unbalancing the earth and sending us whirling off toward maybe Mars, but some things never turn out the way you think they might.

So the trio and I spent the day not following Work Plan A, but rather shoveling off the deck and sledding for a while, I then leaning on the deck rail watching while the twins made angels in the snow below until there were angels all over the place, with angel faces in between, and we couldn't walk anywhere around the firewood without stepping on an angel.

Never had a better reason for calling it a day.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Last weekend the crew  came over for a visit, so after a snack I put them to work helping me replenish the dwindling stack in the firewood holder up on the deck. Weather getting Siberiocold, but still no snow. Keeping pace with three sets of reaching young hands while handing chunks of firewood up to the deck, however, kept us all busy and warm, and in my case gave rise to new thoughts about aging. 

We had to pause now and then when I came to a chunk of wood that had a cadre of kamemushi (stink bug) huddling together on it, plotting some noxious action while sandbagging out of the wind; I had to clear them off before handing it on up. After 15 or so minutes of this I picked up a chunk, turned it over to check all sides and under the bark (kamemushi are sly, for all their malodor) and found a young gecko there, not shivering, but immobile. He was clinging to the wood for dear life, with not much of a future, given the new situation.

I held the piece high - gecko-side up - to piercing squeals of delight, the trio being avid gecko fans, all the more so for never being able to catch one during the warm days, when the wall-to-ceiling mini-dinosaurs are fully active, but the girls could pick this one up like a rubber toy, which they did. He wasn’t really stiff; he was minimally alive, in a hibernal way. After the necessary inspections, introductions etc., the three of us who still had geckoless hands eventually got back into the firewood rhythm, while the engeckoed member stood with cupped hands, as a little gecko head tried to poke its way out.

And so the work went on more slowly, yet of all things I soon found another gecko, which meant there were then only two of us working - one of us unhappily - until, karmic tool that I am, I found precisely a third gecko. Three was the magic number; the cosmos had known that, of course.  After that, the three girls had maybe one iffy hand each to work with and no power of focus to speak of; my firewood relocation program, like the local gecko hibernation regimen, went sideways from that point. I quickly gave up the idea of continuing alone, since just above my head were six hot little hands full of warming geckos that had to be named and nurtured back to life, rendering firewood work a matter for creatures on some distant planet. 

So inside we went, where each gecko holder put her no longer anonymous gecko (Mitsuki's gecko: Chocolat; Kaya's gecko: Chako; Miasa's gecko: Ebura) in a plastic box with air holes in it and I went to research online into whatever might be winter geckofood. Sometime toward evening Chako lost his tail, which he paid no attention to even as it lay wriggling  beside him in his new residence.

Later, when the trio plus three returned home, Chako escaped into the apartment and could not be found; the next day the Trio released Chocolat and Ebura into the lush environs around their place. A few days later they found Chako in the apartment, with a new tail!

As Grandparents and certain geckos know, there are some things you simply can’t plan for.

Friday, January 10, 2014

When I first looked up 
and saw the full moon -- 
The mind I had then 

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Snowball Fever

Here at high altitude in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, just over and up the snowcapped mountains from Kyoto - the old and sometimes snowy capital - even as three or more ice breakers are one by one being frozen into the Antarctic pack ice, the precipitation is falling steadily here on the mountainside today, as it has been since morning, the beautiful quieting whiteness delicately laying its soft, thick, ermine blanket over the countryside, festooning the trees and outlining the shapes of all the paddies in its... NOT! 

On January 8 it is NOT snowing, it is raining; it hasn't snowed yet this year, apart from a solo flake I think I saw one evening, which might have been a confused butterfly. But who ever said weather is fair? What’s worse, the pour is coming down as hard as if this were rainy season, which should have ended months ago; it’s even flooding in places, and if this were crisp dry snow it would be deep and way nicer, but noooo, it perverses to be wet, cold, rain and what can we say, we serial weather victims, what can we do about it and don’t give me that carbon footprint spiel if you don’t mind, it makes me want to throw a heavy snowball really hard, which those boat crews are probably doing a lot of in the Antarctic right now.