Sunday, August 21, 2016


No one knows for sure how they got there, who put them there, or why; how they disappeared or who took them away. But we long-term residents can surmise...

The tragic tale began one evening on a quiet mountain road-- not in Verona, as one might think, nor even in Italy, but a rural mountain area of scenic Shiga, Japan not far from Kyoto-- a region more famed for its historic struggles among samurai clans-- as Etsuko was returning to our home on the mountainside in the twilight and came upon the young couple lying in the road, clearly and tragically deceased, perhaps only moments before. They had been carefully but oddly arranged; nothing in the scene seemed to fit...

Etsuko slowed the car and glanced out the window for a passing glimpse of the clearly mismatched pair: one was a young monkey, a Montague of sorts; the other was a member of another notable animal family: a young raccoon-- say of the Capulets, in keeping with human/animal history and tradition. 

They had been laid out side by side, perpendicular to the road, requiring drivers to “go around” somewhat. Clearly they had been placed there with care, to make some impression; or, if by their own actions, which seems more likely, had arranged themselves in the romantic tradition of Romeo and Juliet.

Nor did any part of the forensic scenario fit the available methods of fatality: poison (none around), roadkill (not flattened), animal savagery or gunshot (no wounds)-- with no injuries or bloodshed to be seen, the two individuals in the flower of their youth were just lying there peacefully together, Juliet reaching her little paws for Romeo’s little hands, exactly  as though she had found him dead in the morning because he had thought she was dead when he found her, and so killed himself in grief, to be with her once more, but she wasn’t dead, only in an induced coma he didn’t know about, and when she came out of the coma and found him dead, she killed herself to be with him, the two young lovers figuratively holding paws throughout the night on the stage that is all the world.

You see how only one set of facts fits together perfectly: it was romance that claimed them; mythic romance, eternal love and no mistake: interfamily/interspecies, what’s the real difference, but if art is any indication, the Monkey Montagues and the Raccoon Capulets have been united forever by this epic tragedy involving their beloved children.

Then in the morning, the pair were gone. No doubt their families had taken them home. The romance, the romance!

So much is to be found in these mountains of legend... 

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