Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012


“The main concern addressed was whether the genetically engineered salmon could escape and establish themselves in the wild, with detrimental environmental consequences. The larger salmon, for instance, could conceivably outcompete wild Atlantic salmon for food or mates. The agency said the chance this would happen was ‘extremely remote.’ It said the salmon would be raised in inland tanks with multiple barriers to escape. Even if some fish did escape, the nearby bodies of water would be too hot or salty for their survival. And reproduction would be unlikely because the fish would be sterilized, though the sterilization technique is not foolproof.” Damn, I guess they're right; I don't see a flaw in their reasoning, not even a loophole the size of a salmon/eel gene switch. It's as safe and sure a thing as so many other government promises. Maybe even better than those decades of Fukushima reactor assurances, starting back in the 1970s and going on until March of last year, when they somehow turned into actual lies. Odds must be, jeez, like one in-- some other number! And growth hormone year round, too! What could go wrong there? Wonder what kind of labfood they're fed in those tanks. Unevolved, human-made and bred fish naturally aren't very smart. I suppose these would have to taste pretty close to salmon. But most folks won't know what they're eating. 

Monday, December 17, 2012


Some say that the first half of life is spent acquiring things, and the last half is spent letting them go. That's generally true, I suppose, but it's different for travelers, who from the start of their journey begin to let things go. One of the unsung benefits of travel is learning how to do this, how not to invest too much of your presence in static physical things.

If you're a traveler, by now you know the deepest meaning of goodbye. As to physical things, you've learned to never accumulate more than you wish to carry, and from your first day of wander you've worked to pare even that down, to give yourself maximum mileage; you therefore reduce all that matters to practicals, minimals, symbols, essences, thoughts, memories, things you can take with you when you go-- as you always do, or at least always think of doing.

If in your latter travels you physically settle down somewhere, in spirit you still treat time like a traveler, still live like a traveler, consider like a traveler, eye your surrounds like a traveler, always thinking: maybe next month, maybe next year; viewing all your trappings with a measuring eye, plotting what to do with them at departure, give them to friends who might need them, enjoy them, pass them on... for you know what anchors possessions can be to fluent passage on the endless river - known only to travelers - that runs always through the world and has carried you here, the marvelous river you've never really left, that runs now inside you, calling to the boat of your soul...

The traveler spends his life letting go and going on, and at death it is the same.

Friday, December 14, 2012


First snow of winter fell during the night and is still falling. Kind of late, even on the mountaintops; the first white dusting was only a couple of weeks ago. When it's still dark and you're just waking you can tell by the deeper silence that it has snowed; then the quiet fills with light and seems even thicker...

When you hear that silence, peep out the window and behold that whiteness covering all you see, something changes in you as when you were a kid, that ancient winter quickening, a new flow you can feel, a current native to the bone, this new cold white adventure just beginning to build, for there are things to be done, special things-- snow to be shoveled, outdoor items to be covered or moved into snowless places (good thing the snow tires are on -- a smile), break out the Sorels, the heavy socks and gloves, get the snowcoat, thick hat, shovels, heavy brooms, car brush, window scrapers, cover the wheelbarrow, put the ladders away, bury the garden faucets and hoses beneath mounds of leaves, stack more firewood closer to the house before the snow builds its deadline.

The dawning birdsongs are sharper and clearer - more frugal; energy is at a premium -
Appetites change too, as a result of all this action, this freshness of air scrubbed through the night by trillions of fine-edged waterflakes; hunger gets big, the body gets ready for what is to come, the work and the fuel, the food and the firewood, the lifting and shoveling and hauling, fighting the doubtless wind, pushing through the deepening snow, ice to be chipped away, like old days of waiting...

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Slowly the moves the big eraser...
"American literature classics are to be replaced by insulation manuals and plant inventories in US classrooms by 2014.
A new school curriculum which will affect 46 out of 50 states will make it compulsory for at least 70 per cent of books studied to be non-fiction, in an effort to ready pupils for the workplace.

Monday, December 03, 2012


Only carnivorously tabloid reporters and hyperlonely folks with no vegetable friends make fun of gardeners who talk to their plants. Look at what happened to Prince Charles. He stopped admitting it, speaks to vegetative bodies only in private now, except perhaps when he addresses parliament.

But the fact is that all gardeners talk to their plants, especially in early winter, like me this morning when I was walking the rows clearing the gray stalks and wilted vines, harvesting what I could and pausing to amaze over the stalwart peppers, especially the incipient ones huddled on thin stems trying to become green in the cold. 

Peppers originated in warm climates, so cold is not their friend, but they were literally hangin' in there, the younger, smaller, yet still piquant ones that, despite their brave efforts, were beginning to turn yellow as though they were holding their breath. Under the pitiful circumstances, who with a beating heart could simply walk by these wannabe succulent emerald lives and say nothing? Any such folk should not be gardening, for they hold no esteem in the vegetable world. Agrobizzers, likely.

I could only sympathize and be thankful to the virtually shivering capsicums for all their efforts, as for example the savor they gave to my chili last week, but for all that green shivering it was a pretty one-sided conversation. Still, I could make out some words of their language, which is not subject to the limitations of mere sound like ours, but takes the form of light and color; thus no need for crude lips or vocal chords. Most of what I could make out from their side was in the nature of “Get me out of here!” Which I did.

Our conversations were therefore brief, as I went down the rows emanating pepperish gratitude as best I could, knowing that any buds left in place would grow no more, now that the cold was waxing fast. I harvested whoever was of sliceable size, to help me continue with my life; the rest would become part of next years' proud summer pepper chorus.

Peppers do appreciate an audience.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Getting ready for new fires in the just-cleaned woodstove, went at evening to fill the bucket with pinecones from the shed, out to the big bag of them still left from the ones I picked up on Little Pine Beach a couple years ago, my feet going quiet out back trying not to startle the two young does nibbling at the big meadow across the road as I saw from the big side window a few moments before-- I don’t think they can see me here, and I’m downbreeze, but they might hear me, so I try to sound like a bunch of pinecones in a big bag in a shed.

Then trying even harder to stay quiet while slowly pouring out those years-dry pinecones that whisper as they go out of a big chunky bag into the old iron bucket just waiting to be noise, and then in that autumn evening light the surprise to me, so far from expecting the beauty that comes tumbling into the reddish bucket in the silvers, russets and other dun colors left behind by pine seeds long gone into the world; purpose fulfilled, the pinecones are still reaching-- openness their new beauty, they gather together without fuss, arrange themselves in elegance; I add some more on top, they’re still perfectly arranged. Then I add a handful more, just to see. You cannot mess up a bunch of pinecones.

Simple, sleek power they are, gathered there in a bucket in a twilight, fallen altogether in ancient understanding. One must take the time they call for, gaze at their perfection, try to see how they do it, being mostly space, but are we not the same-- it is something that knows us well, some ancient thing, far older than eyes, that life has made and light has painted, a glimpse from a now at what is always, about light and seeds, about hearts and moments, about deep stirrings of time in evenings of lives... pinecones in a bucket.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SOMETHING THERE IS, FOR SURE Although the phrasing makes it pretty awkward to do so, I have to agree 100% with Robert Frost that definitely Something there is that doesn't love a wall, which Something in my case, in addition to RF's groundswells, includes hurricanes, wild pigs and earthquakes, though I know R was after a refined, esoteric entity better suited to a New Englandy kind of poetry. But hey, since I'm on the subject and not being the least bit poetic, let's not limit this to stone walls, shall we, there is more to the phenomenon than that. Like any stone handler, I have basic stone wall permanency problems, but I have the same trouble with stacks of firewood. And so do you, if you've ever stacked a bunch of big oddsized chunks of it; tougher than building a sentence in Finnegan's Wake. Soon after which you find out that yes, Something there is alright, and it doesn't love a stack of firewood any less than it doesn't love a stone wall. No need to even mention stacks of money. Yes, here we humans are, all this time - thousands of millennia so far - trying to stack up something of our own that will last, preferably years - even centuries for a stone wall - but a mere year or two for a stack of firewood-- is that too much to ask? Whatever that unidentifiable entity Frost is hinting at, it sure as hell doesn't listen. It's not a matter just of gravity, which is a strictly bureaucratic form of energy; there's Something more impish to it, being the antithesis of entropy, yet persistently selective in its anarchy. I got rerouted onto this rant because this year not one stack of firewood, not two stacks of firewood, but three stacks of firewood (one stack twice, so far) have been toppled by wild pigs or hurricanes, and the year ain't over yet, though it's leaning in that direction. Earth, time and gravity have friends.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Standing out in the strong wind last night getting a good soft buffeting, listening to the air itself roar the way it does when seasons change, in the castoff light from the house windows I watched the same bamboo I always see as a wall of vegetation in the light of day, when I look out the window or glance up from gardening or firewooding-- 

But now, in the light upon the dark, and as a figure in the picture myself I saw the bamboo as if on a stage before me, saw how it lived and moved in ancient understanding of the roar of an autumn night-- it was a different beast, clearly alive now out here in its world, collective in its singularity, truer to its nature there in the night of its life, where seeing is of no point and being is all--

I'd always thought of this bamboo in itself as individual stalks, the stubborn ones I now and then had to force my way through on a path of last resort. A feisty plant in its human relations, this is the variety they make fishing rods out of - mountain bamboo - taller than a man but slender and crowded, grows too densely for any but wild pigs, ferrets, foxes and snakes to travel easily through (bamboo and animals share a primordial alliance of noses and shapes); but now, in the rush of the night, each light-paled stalk was on its own, yet one with all the others.

Like a school of bright fish in a dark sea they were together, shifting and swaying, shining and turning as one golden mass in the roiling ocean of black air that moved with and around them, 'together' in the deepest meaning: wind and stalk, air and plant in one vast lifewave, both surrendering, both prevailing, air moving on, bamboo letting it go and holding fast to the earth, each stalk reaching even in the night for the light of the day to come, in ancient and undying trust.

Monday, November 05, 2012


Went on Sunday to a mountain across the Lake to check out Oda Nobunaga's Azuchi castle digs, he wasn't there, hasn't been for several centuries now, nothing left on that mountaintop but huge stone foundations that cast the eye into high fortifications and the mind into standing guard outdoors in high twisting corridors of stone on savage winter nights alert in the dark of long before electricity, listening through the howl of the wind for sounds of conspirators edging up through tilted blackness, and only three years after all that magnificence was built, Oda made his biggest mistake, got cornered at a lowdown temple near Kyoto's Gion district (still a pleasure center today), and slit his own belly rather than be captured by an upstart, and the very next day the plotters burned those brand-new golden towers, those treasure walls down to the bare rough stones I saw on Sunday, overlooking vast holdings that belong to no one after all, is what the ruin says, and only ten days later Hideyoshi carried out an amazing forced march and sent the surprised plotters themselves to where Oda and his fabulous dream-filled castle had gone, and there 400 years later was I, standing on a post stone 30 meters below where Oda's candle-lit tower room had risen into the night with its painted walls, broad doors open to the vastness beneath the stars, no one there today but some elderly visitors stumbling to the top of what's left of the foundation to exclaim on the view from here, in fact one can see much much farther in so many ways from such places as this, royal chambers in the air where once were trysts and plottings now repossessed by the crowns of trees, the fights of crows and how fickle is power, as one's boot fits the wear in the time-tilted grand steps of stone a nation once climbed, in obeisance now as far from here as Nobunaga is...

Monday, October 22, 2012


Yesterday I was out in the hot afternoon sun sweating trying to split a thick section of oak that had, right to its core, an old broken branch that locked the trunk together like a thick iron bolt and rendered the grain perverse to wedge, axe, muscle and the finest curses that can roil from the tongue of man, until at last the lock of the grain surrendered with amazing grace (how sweet the sound) and the halves fell open to reveal a miraculous record of over half a century of infinitesimal effort to counterbalance wind and gravity, seasons and the scars of living.

This one big scar in particular had been woven back to integrity by broad swathes of decades, each weaving recorded in tiny golden waves of fibergrain that swerved and swirled, intertwisted and ultratorqued until the memory of that broken branch was webbed into the past as firmly as with woven steel and with a grace beyond human ability, that now, in the light of the sun, was time itself, in lacings of ivory and gold.

I could only marvel as I squatted there, seeing it shine in the light that was its maker: what craft, what wisdom, what staunch flexibility!

If only I could be as true in all my moments...

Sunday, October 14, 2012


The portion of the road below our house has been steadily narrowing over the past month as the roadside bamboo, saplings and weeds overgrow. The gleaming polish of the autos that travel up and down here are under increasing threat from those reaching woody arms - many with thorns - all owing to local community politics.

In the past, every year at about this time, as I’ve chronicled herein, the village below and we up here get together in a big, well-organized roadside weedwhacking work party, in which dozens of husbands and wives et al. clear both sides of the entire road up the mountain in a morning. Always an impressive event. This year, though, the whacking didn’t go this far up; it stopped down around the school at the bottom of our road, because our water co-op drilled a well and was no longer getting water from the village, severing a strong obligatory tie between us.

Henceforth, due to local village mountain-water politics we are on our own, weedwhackingwise. I waited and watched and asked and listened, but it appeared that no one in our upper community was going to do anything about it (or organize to do so, which situation is likely to change at the next couple of community meetings, since all these folks drive nice shiny cars).

Along the southern roadside the weeds had by this point narrowed the road nearly by half. Immediate emergency squad action was the only viable solution. So it was that I summoned my work crew, the Trio of Brio (motto “Sudorem delectatio est,” “Sweat is Fun”), to help me do something about it. We got out the best new big green wheelbarrow with banana-yellow handles in the world, rakes large and small, clippers, shovels, buckets, hand scythes, a big scoop basket, I got out the new high-powered weedwhacker, put on the bamboo-cutting blade and we assembled at the target area not too long after dawn, figuring to finish half the work today.

An interesting thing happens when you give brief, unadorned instructions to kids regarding tasks, like “separate the few hard woody stems and throw those back onto the cut overgrowth, wheelbarrow the rest up the mountain road to the compost strip behind the garden, then clean up the leftovers on the road.” One of the twins (Miasa, I think) took that latter instruction to near nanolevel and crafted a fine tool out of some whacked bamboo, got down on her knees and with her face close to the road used the tool to scrape particles of leaf dust into little piles, which she shoved into the dustpan pile by pile using another spontaneously crafted tool, and thence into the wheelbarrow. Interesting little devices and procedure for finely detailed cleanup, but soon her sweating, hauling sisters, wrestling with thorny reality, got on her case and once again the effort went into full forward mode.

At one point, while attempting to toss a big thorny bale of hard-stemmed whackstuff back onto the overgrowth, I couldn’t see the also-overgrown culvert, so stepped in it with my left foot just as I tossed the unwieldy armful and instantly hit the road, so to speak, toppling backward downhill onto the road, my old aikido lessons (from 40 years ago!) reflexively kicking in as I struck not flat on my back, but curled and ready to roll, my feet flying up into the air as my body rocked onto its shoulders, easily dissipating the force as per the old “aikido roll” (plus even older football knowledge) as the trio watched from uproad, slackjawed.  They had never seen an adult accidentally freefall and roll till his feet were up in the air before. After returning to earth I got up with only a few scratches on one forearm and shoulder from re-entry, some woody weeds getting a bit of their own back. We continued on.

Neighborly autofolks who throughout the day drove by along the steadily widening road in their unscratched shiny cars, seeing this act of communal kindness by a foreigner and three young girls sweating in the hot sun cutting, raking and hauling, all rolled down their windows to smile Good Morning... Good afternoon... The girls smiled back, proud of what they were accomplishing. Our system and my hardy crew worked so well that we finished the job in a day.

A whole new road.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012


We live in one time, flowers live in another. Ours is mostly artificial, of our own devising: time compartments of the social mind. 

I was out in the garden one morning a few days ago, not cleaning up after the wild pigs for a change (more on that later), but doing one of the autumnal things gardeners do in that absently focused way gardeners do things - not thinking of time at all, just going along with the body on functional autopilot - weeding, raking, hauling - and in the path of my task I noticed the oddness of one slim green flowerstem sticking up out of the ground, just a bright dash of green with but a dab of red at the end - it looked familiar, but incomplete - had I accidentally cut off the tip of it or what? It gave me pause, called me forth, and so the new flower reminded me what date it was. 

It was the Autumnal equinox, or higan in Japanese; yesterday was the higan holiday on the Japanese calendar: September 21 (so that's why the date was in red!). Every year around this is when the higanbana bloom, as though to remind us.

They know something big-- not about time, as all flowers do, but about a specific "date," as we humans term it, a particular timepoint in our particular framework comprising planetary orbits, rotations and suchlike; these flowers, though, know this point in time every year without all that, without our math or astronomy or information recording systems, when their new flowers suddenly sprout up overnight or it can seem right before your eyes if you haven't been watching, as so many of us don't at about this time every year, when we're busy with our own yeartime tasks and can forget for a duration the deep purpose of life, which is to bloom whenever the time is right... as the higanbana have demonstrated for eons.  

Later, from the deck at the end of the day I could see that over in the shady corner, by the stone steps down to the inner road, a cluster of higanbana stood erect on their slender green leafless stems, blossoms open to their full spread, gathered like a misty scarlet cloud, saying in unforgettable red to all who pass by Hey it's the equinox! Not that they "know" this as we know this, although they do-- it's difficult, with only a mind, to get at this aspect of reality and all its permutations that come to pertain every year with higanbana, but they "know" it not in the merely intellectual way that we do: they know it in the fiber of their lives, they rise by it from the earth itself, and stand there; they live it, they proclaim it in unmistakable scarlet for all to see, they are one with it, that is why they are there now in the shade, stating these facts as crimson in the shadows, or like fireworks out in the sun, declaring a truth to one and all in the strongest terms of red, clustered there, seven or eight of them this year beneath the tsubaki trees; next year there will be more, making the same emphatic point about time with the same bright excitement, as what they know grows in an importance we have yet to discover...

Friday, September 28, 2012


my iPod nudges
and nudges - but The Frogs
are performing live

Saturday, September 22, 2012


They have this new thing here in Japan that I just found out about when I got a multipart sticky postcard saying that since I'm over 70 and my drivers license is expiring, I have to take the Dementia Driving Test. That's my name for it.

They don't call it that, of course, they call it something like the Silver Driver Autumn Leaf Test with Hello Kitty, something more euphemistic, the card has all sorts of unnecessary information on its eight sides, with no map or directions for location or anything, just lists of fees and degrees of senescence plus some phone numbers. I had to phone them to find out where I actually had to go, in the physical form that embodiment imposes.

The card said come on Thursday Sept 13 and bring a lot of money with your imminently useless license and a bunch of other stuff, maybe a collapsible bicycle in case I had to pedal home if I knew where that was ha ha, but I use my dementia to perform complex tasks on Thursdays in the big city, so when I called them I said - exerting optimal coherence, which I can still manage at times, even at my advanced age - that since I was working on the 13th, Wed Sept 12 would be good, that was my day off, they said We don't have the test on Wed, (there's that old naivete again, thinking that public convenience was a factor) so we sumoed some dates around and finally settled on this coming Monday, which is good because usually Mondays are when I'm least demented.

If they asked me - but bureaucracies never do, for some reason - it would be a sufficient test to simply see if I could find my way to the Motor Vehicle Bureau on my birthday and stand in each of the many long lines in correct sequence, fill out all the complex forms, answer all the questions, sign my name, read the numbers, pass all the other tests that the younger, less experienced drivers have to pass and that I myself have successfully done many times, without strangling a single bureaucrat or even babbling upon exit, before I was as richly experienced at driving license obtainment as I am now.

However, the mandatory driving schools in Japan are big business, and the bureaucracy-tempered cynic in me figures that with fewer and fewer young people being born in Japan, and the expanding proportion of elderly Japanese simply renewing their licenses every 4 years or so (for a fortune each time!), the driving schools, once a cash cow for legislators' relatives (what a cynic), are no longer pulling in the cash as hand-over-fistly as they once were (a driver's license requires many hours of formal driver training at a government-licensed school, for a minimum cost of 300,000 yen (ca. $4000), and if you don't pass - like so many don't - you gotta do it all again, with instructors I suspect are retired drill sergeants. It's a tough few months.

So on Monday I go to take my DDT, with lecture, virtual driving test, actual driving test and discussion, 3 full hours in total, the whole morning shot, and if I don't run over any virtual grandmothers or try to convince the tester of my Napoleonhood, I should get permission to continue driving until I turn 75, when I'll have to do it all over again, at a higher price. 

Maybe I should emigrate before they come out with the Deceased Driving Test.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cheaper than Wolf Urine

When I got home that evening from a full day of some of the most modern activities on the planet, Echo told me she had found in one of the local farm stores a product that claimed to be an inoshishi repellent but was pretty expensive, should she get some. It also claimed to repel bats, cats, snakes, rats, moles, raccoons,  just about everything except the IRS, which claims gave me pause, but though expensive it was a lot cheaper than wolf urine, so I put the mental barbed wire on one of my mind's wayback shelves and sprang for the stuff.

Next evening I came home from another day riddled with more of said modern activities to find sitting on the kitchen table what looked like a box of Satan's favorite cereal. The red-flaming garish package indeed claimed to repel wild pigs, prominently among all the other things. As proof, on the  front, 
above a wild pig in a red circle with a bar across it (could this really be as easy as No Parking?) growled a big, angry, sharp-fanged habanero pepper that evoked devilish gratification at sprinkling this stuff around my property, now pocked all over with holes that pigs had made in the ground.

It was darkly satisfying to imagine large porky pig snouts snorking along in the night, coming upon a little pile of this devilish stuff and just sucking it up into flaring pig nares-- oh, if I could only see the flames that would follow as the beasts ran off into the night, never to return; imagination is almost as good as being there. How many are the degrees of surreality, I wonder.

Repellently curious, I opened the box, then the plastic bag inside; sniffed, reeled. One kilo of pig antimatter, uncut. Looked like (but did NOT smell like) a chunky instant coffee packet for a large creature of the night. Contained dried habanero, NEET, creosote, garlic, an occult concoction of stuff that would repel anything, including vampires; it certainly repelled this mere mortal to a considerable distance, and might even work on zombies.

The next morning, with delightful images of flaming pig nostrils dancing in my head, I sprinkled the black magical piggypowder everywhere a porker might snork. The bag was quickly emptied, but those little nosebombs were everywhere enough that  during the night I might just hear the wild pig equivalent of Porky Pig sniffing up some scoville 5 million. Couldn't wait. At the end of my task, I split open the empty bag, laid it smelly-side-up in the middle of the slope the porks had made of the stone wall into my little deckside garden, and there pinned it to the ground with a rock, like a figurative middle finger salute to the night invaders.

The next night was pigless. And the night after that. It was working, at least; the porkers could smell it for miles and wouldn't be coming back, suggested the the "Curly" portion of my brain’s Corpora tristoogia. Cerebrally speaking, I should have twisted his nose with some pliers.

[Stay tuned for Part 3!]

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Mind Runs through Barbed Wire

It's not easy to imagine the things that rampage through an alien landowner-gardener-householder's mind at discovering in the morning that the inoshishi (wild pigs) have again rooted with feral anarchy all over his property like they did the other night for the first time in the 20 years he's lived here, but fortunately I am such a guy and can directly relate the trauma of all those heedless porky noses harrowing my tender garden soil, soil carefully prepped over decades, noses that (thankfully) ignored the trampled organic peppers, dangling organic zukes and uprooted organic cukes in preference to earthworms of all things, then rooted at the stony bases of my deck supports, and in the small deck garden - wild madness there - rooted deeply at the foot of the huge boulder that could topple either onto the deck and house or onto pig and deck, my own wild side sensing that naturally-natural pigs are way less likely to be mistaken than a delusional gardener, so it's the house-and-deck that will get the big rock, given the ways of the universe.

Plus there's all that here-and-there gravel the pigs have rooted into, leaving quarry holes, and the small boulders toppled from stone walls onto the driveway, the large and heavy slabs of granite tossed left and right like giant stale potato chips, the scattered edging rocks-- Monkeys were never this rampant or nonfood focused; what the hell do you do about recurring visits of  ruthless wormslavering hogs who have no compunction about toppling your house with you inside if there’s an earthworm underneath, and from the look of things those noses could do it.

The inoshishi trap that comes immediately to mind is a huge truck-borne rebar cage that would take up the entire driveway, so where do I put the car for a week or two and what do I do when I come out one morning on the way to work and find in there a trapped 80 kilo boar rumbling hungry frothing and gnashing his tusks with whom I have to deal in person, plus I need a costly license to enjoy that experience.

Some folks might want to be nice to the beast, since they're - well - green, which I can understand, wild things being so zoozy cute on the Discovery channel and YouTube and imgur, but when it's your property and your decades of effort, your eyes widen a bit with ancient rage and you too are wild, you've got fangs growing, feelslike, and a bloodthirst; had it in you all along. But nonetheless in time you come to your wisened senses, death is but a last resort, though a night-eyed boar clacking his tusks at me in his path to food will not think along those lines; such is the distance we have traveled to empathy.
I know this will all soon end, for this year at least, and anyway I've gotten what I consider my share of the vegs out of what I still perversely think of as my garden, but these pigs and their piglets, and all the piglets after them on down the countless porky generations, intuit this property in the deepest sense, that it formally belongs to them, as it has for thousands of eons thus far; they have simply reclaimed it, left their marks here and there, so they'll be back, one way or another, one inoshishi or another - How long the mind on the train wanders amid strange themes - lost vegetables and saved, rifles, toppled walls, night watches, poison, traps, spears, the price of wild pork, barbed wire, wolf urine (expensive!) and at the end emerges as from a cave of night, heads for what the hell is an office, where he is a modern man, doing modern things...

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Out in the garden
blossom to blossom
butterfly starts the vegetables

Monday, September 03, 2012


We all remember that summer morning sunrise at Woodstock when Jimi wailed away at his guitar and polished a fresh facet on the new age with the first explosive chords of The Star-Spangled Banner, in a musical performance that has become an icon of national change; well move over, Jimi. Make room for Miasa, who took it to an international level.

Miasa, who with her sisters has for some time now been studying the traditional 3-stringed Japanese instrument known as the shamisen, for some reason selected as her solo recital song a piece titled: Amerika Gasshukoku no Kokka, which translates as "The National Anthem of the United States of America," an anthem that, needless to say, is familiar to all the world but new to 9-year-old Japan resident Miasa. In fact, I'd say that, when she took to the stage at the recital and began to play Amerika Gasshukoku no Kokka on her shamisen, she hadn't heard that uplifting melody in well over 9 years.

As she plucked out each of the song's single individual and separately notated notes in her spritely manner, it came to me that never before in their long history had the international relations of Japan and the United States been deconstructed in such a youthful way in a public arena, particularly in the plangent musical vernacular unique to the shamisen.

The liberty of tempo, the individualistic bending of traditional notes and chords into modern cultural commentary, with implicit political overtones, had every member of the Japanese audience - all thoroughly familiar with the noble song - on the edges of their seats, somewhat as the folks at Woodstock were, even without seats, when Jimi cranked it to the limits in his inimitable way, transforming that staid anthem we all know into an icon of neorevolutionary aspiration that lives on today in cultures around the world, and that found even newer resonance at the shamisen recital on Sunday.

Miasa's own unique 2nd-generation American-Japanese interpretation of The Star-Spangled Banner on the shamisen before a fully Japanese audience set a new standard for interpretive listening, one that will live on in all those hearts, and thence into the ages.

Well done Miasa. Two nations, now much closer, salute you. 

Jimi, thanks for the precedent, and for moving over.

Friday, August 31, 2012


Traditionally, defining a blue moon can drive a conversation crazy. I remember a heavy-dictionary definition I read years ago: "Blue moon: the length of time between recurrences of an exceedingly rare phenomenon" (dictionaries really used to talk like that). The latest and simplest definition is that a blue moon is a second full moon within one month, which means that the next Blue Moon will be tonight (just about while this is posted; been a busy day), since there was a full moon on August 1. But his definition is controversial because it's just too simple and easy to remember for something heavenly. Those in etherea seem to think should be more like the definition of Easter or Thanksgiving, which were set up back when everybody knew all about the moon and the stars, which played a big part in their nightly lives.

As so often happens therefore, if you go back in history you spoil it, which I will now do. Because historically there are multiple definitions that by the time you try to figure them out the blue moon has long gone and you couldn't care less if the moon was blue or where the name came from, just give me a single malt and make it quick. 

An earlier definition holds that a blue moon is the fourth full moon in a season, when normally there would be only three, but you can see that this is pretty much the same as the two full moons in one month, which that older blue moon would have to be anyway so why not boil it down, I can't see why some spoilsport from back before there was electricity would have to muck everything up like that, when at night there was only familiar starlight and old friend moonlight, no harsh streetlights or crass neon and lots of old-fashioned time, with "up there" so important and a simple blue-moon definition right at hand; what's more, my glass is suddenly empty. 

Just to liven things up a bit, here's some more confusing moon data:  
Seven times in 19 years there are 13 full moons in a year. 

Anyway, tonight be sure to enjoy the blue moon that isn’t blue; how did that get here? 

Monday, August 27, 2012


I must say, I am impressed by  the Tromboncino, having had mixed success with pattypans, sunbursts, regular zukes, acorn, crookneck and other squashes (the monkey-resistant hard-skinned butternuts were good).

I was nonplussed by the among-others fact that the sunbursts and friends would just take off cross-country with no sign of vining, just plunge on through the garden undergrowth, loving travel but not stopping to produce and properly nourish their cute little vegefruits.

The butternut was a spreader and as climber, so it could get up there and use a lot of space, and it produced quietly all over the garden. I especially appreciated the fact that the squash was so hard Monkeys couldn't bite it so gave up on it, there were a lot of monkey bitemarks on our butternuts. The implicit frustration added to the savor.

Also, being the only planter of such things up here, I suspect there are bugs up in the treetops singing my location to their buddies flying by overhead, "Hey, there's non-sprayed peppers down here, cukes too, and tomatoes, zukes, you name it-- bring your family and friends!" So this is action central, especially since I'm doing it all organically, meaning the wildlife gets its varied vigs.

So upon learning that the Tromboncino stem was resistant to borers, I sent for some seeds and in my ignorance planted 2 hills, 4 to a hill, envisioning cute little Italianate tromboney squashes here and there, pretty much in fixed locations. Going was slow in the beginning, this not being the Mediterranean, but somehow it had escaped me that the Tromboncino is a climber; it showed no such inclination at first. It seemed rather to be a timid life form, plus it had heavy competition from all the sprouting (100%, seemed like) pumpkin seeds from the kitchen compost.

Before too long, though, the Big-T had overgrown and overshadowed the other paltry vegetative life forms with its huge, dark, milk-dotted leaves. With its cablevines and KingKong climbing power, its presentation of blossoms one after another in the first few weeks (but all male-- I was beginning to wonder if plants can be gay), I questioned whether all this splendor was going anywhere; but now in their nobility putting out female blossoms too, being perhaps a bit more laggard in this than other squash, but quickly catching up, and what growing power! They're already reaching out beyond the top of the 2-meter-high net fence where they're winding among the goya and outclassing the pumpkins; elsewhere they're snaking along among the netted cukes and staked tomatoes with their majestic leaves...

Now, the female blossoms are growing into long fruits that after a few days are already bigger than the standard zuke and seem to double every day or so; if they are allowed to hang down, they don't curl a la the archaic trombone; these noble creatures can grow to over a yard long, most of which length is seedless! I’m speechless in my garden, and in my kitchen, where the pale green beauties saute to a beautiful jade, they are delicious in taste and texture as well.

I bow to my noble nourishers, vowing to grow them again next year, yes. Definitely.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


How easy it is to let the time slip by as though you're 18 and have little to do with it. The older you get, the faster it glides, but with age comes perspective. So that if you've been paying some attention all these years, you can ignore the pace of time and focus more on its depths, where so many treasures are. 

Unless of course that all becomes moot because at the moment one happens to have a house full of preteen granddaughters, which pretty much lifts one out of time's inviting deeps into the broad and shining shallows of ultrayouth, which is where I've recently been spending time like a senior kid with the Trio of Brio, while their mother is visiting the US. Thus, I've been doing physical labor at a child's pace, which goes so sloooowly to me, but still sweatful, and going thence to Little Pine Beach to spend days or was it hours in the cool blue waters, or frolicking under the garden hose, spraying water up among the overhead leaves of the chestnut tree, or making a jacuzzi out of the wheelbarrow for entire afternoons and so forth, which is why I haven't thought too deeply about the rice harvest.

Then this morning as I was freewheeling down the mountain through the dawning sunlight, no breeze but that caused by my gliding quietly through the broad fields of nodding rice now almost a meter high, the tall, heavying rice heads now leaning over the tops of the string fences as though peeking into the road... My mind went freewheeling too, realizing that soon all this vigorous beauty will be cut to the ground and harvested, winnowed into big bags and sold or stored away for winter, as it has always been. But none of that mattered today, these green summer lives had been waiting all night for the morning sun and now it was here, and in the gift of that golden warmth the whole mountainside of rice grains began to live its day.

Thus into the warmed air issued a fragrance as rich as butter, rich as oils, the perfume of true wealth, essence worth more than all the rest: the fragrance of life itself living, a joy that filled the ready morning air with the contented sigh of an entire amber mountainside of rice being fully morningly alive; it was a joy that we alive are all familiar with: it was the joy of a fine occasion. It was a big mountain morning party, and I was a welcome guest.

Got me to the station, got me to the train, got me to the office, got me to work, but mainly stayed at the party. The lucky Brio Trio spent the whole day right in the middle of it. Maybe when they're older they’ll remember that day back then, when they were kids one summer and the morning air...

Friday, August 17, 2012


It's because I'm generally not lackadaisical that my experience with wild pigs is limited. However, because I've only seen one monkey in the last few months, my LI (Lackadaisicality Index) has plunged. You see at once how this all fits together. Monkeys keep me on my toes, LI-wise, and if you're on your toes in regard to monkeys, you're on stilts when it comes to wild pigs. If you're not thus on your toes, then you are a welcome mat for the porkers. That's my deep philosophical lesson of the week.

To begin not too long after the beginning: while making my breakfast tea this morning I looked out the big window in the kitchen and noticed that out in the garden, inside the high net fence, the large bucket of bokashi juice had fallen over. I knew I had not been so careless as to place it in such a way that it could be toppled by a strong wind. Anyway it was ¾ full, and heavy.  I also knew that monkeys would not have toppled it, because there was no reward in doing so, and monkeys do not do anything for nothing; they're almost as bad as Wall Street. I couldn't see any other signs of destruction out there, which also mitigated against monkeys. In rural shamus fashion I would check it out after breakfast, on my way to work.

As to my LI, I've been leaving the garden gate open lately because as I say I'd only seen one monkey in a long while, that one cowering behind a rice paddy downmountain; anyway the thieving beasts don't need gates unless they're infirm, and there aren't many infirm monkeys. A mother with clinging infant might opt for a gate rather than climb the high net, but that's another time of year. You can see I've got this all figured out. The deer take advantage of the open gate when there's Spring spinach to be had, but there's so much fresh wild food everywhere for deer to eat now that we don't even see deer any more, they haven't come into the garden in quite a while; no need for them to leave the forest. Couldn't be Littlefoot, he never leaves a mess. My LI was pretty well justified, if you ask me. So what had happened? What had I overlooked? Were my tromboncino now under threat? My cukes? My peppers and pumpkins? Tomatoes? Nobody bothers hot peppers or goyas, thank goodness...

When I got out there for a quick check it appeared that all was well, oddly enough; then when I reached the far end I saw that the soil of one entire corner, perhaps 6 square meters, had been deeply and violently ripped up. I'd seen this before, elsewhere: wild pigs after earthworms. Also, I had planted potatoes there last year. An irresistible combination to wild pigs deprived of the fresh rice growing all around them but out of reach behind electric fences - you can imagine the frustration - but fortunately Mr. Nice Guy of the declining LI was living nearby. The snouty beasts work at night, quietly, so I hadn't heard a sound. Didn't touch the nearby tomatoes and just missed some goya and cuke vines, though one cuke vine had to be listed as collateral damage; nothing else. Those big porky bodies had no problem shouldering that heavy bucket out of the way of fine dining.

This is the first time I've ever been invaded by wild pigs, but only because of my gradual LI reversal. There's a big lesson for the world somewhere in there, but there's no point in throwing pearls before politicians. For their part, the porkos probably broke up their garden party at dawn, but I bet they'll be back for more: tonight one garden corner, tomorrow you know what. My gate, for one, will be closed.

You've been warned. Metaphorically too.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


It's easy to forget a thing that isn't a book. Especially something that pretends to be a book. The other night I put my Kindle Fire - my large-paperback-sized notbook containing Joyce, Chekhov, Thoreau, Vonnegut, Tolstoy, Dick, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Fitzgerald, Hardy, Hemingway, you name them, and many other favorite authors' books - down beside the bathroom sink, and when I'd finished brushing my teeth beside all those literary icons I turned off the light and went upstairs to bed, where I was going to read, and forgot to take a whole library with me. We have much to get used to in the world that is coming.

I forgot my Kindle Fire because as I say it's not a book; my mind doesn't love it the way it loves a book, doesn't heft it or revere it like a book, and never will. My realback books, on the other hand, I have always guarded like my own skin and never left behind. I'd leave my bag behind sometimes, or even my wallet or glasses or car keys, but never my book. The book was always in my hand, where it was held dear. There was an umbilical aspect to our relationship.

When I use my notbook, even after several months I still can't fully digest the fact that there are hundreds of volumes in there, largely public domainers I used to have to pay for nonetheless, because they'd been "published" in hefty paperbacks that were in themselves an accomplishment of manufacture, but back then their cost gave them worldly value. In the notbook, a big thick book is the same as a little thin book; all you get is one silently sliding page at a time, though out of lifelong habit as my eye reads down the page my dutiful forefinger creeps up toward the corner to get ready to turn the page that - is not there - the finger nonetheless searching in space on its own, like an inchworm. Even after several months, my faithful finger refuses to abandon this lifelong occupation and slides up to the corner, to - oh, this isn't a real book, is it - the forlorn digit (big etymology there...) reminds me with its sudden unemployment. Moreover, I don't close the device, I turn it off. You don't turn a book off! And how do you console an unemployed finger?

Nothing like book2notbook has ever happened to humans before. When we went from scroll to Gutenberg we didn't have any trouble remembering the book; we didn't forget the book because it wasn't a scroll. Nor did early scrollers-to-booksters try to unroll their book to open it, or try to roll it up when they finished, they just closed it. They slipped easily into the book groove, their forefingers happy with their new job; there were none of the surprises that await me at every nonturn with my notbook, unlearning things I never thought I knew, like my forefinger, or the entire me, unnecessarily rolling over in bed to comfortably read the next page.

Now I can read in complete darkness! Or turn up/down the page brightness! These are not book inherencies. The digital book has brought with it a whole new set of concepts I've had to open up to for the first time: how, for example, take possessive delight in a masterpiece in digital form? I still can't. A file is not a book, insists my old mind, even as I read; I don't feel the visceral connection of true possession. When it's only numbers, there's just something digital about it.

The bookmind has other problems, some of which may fade as I advance into this new and deweydecimalless life, carrying my library in one hand. For example, Great Gatsby and War and Peace now have the same heft. Also, the fact that I am devouring Ulysses is unobservable by others. How can I impress an interesting lady at the cafe by browsing an invisible Tropic of Cancer? Scorsese's cinema masterpiece After Hours could never have developed if the main character had been reading a Kindle. That feeling of weighty accomplishment under way is gone too, as is that deep sense of reward implicit in the heft of what is being portioned deliciously into my mind, of feeling how much has been read and how much remains to be read by the relative volumes of pages; priceless measures of effort and gain to the veteran reader. But no more.

So what happens from here? Digitally, so much is now out of the question. Terabytes of zeros and ones just ain't got it. Spacial and voluminous reality will always matter, at least until we ourselves become digital; but in my present form, how backbreakingly heavy are the many hundreds if not thousands of actual books on my shelves and in boxes stacked upstairs that I dare not open or I'll be absorbed for hours, dare not move or I'll be in pain. Fact is, they're getting to be a burden by comparison: how crude, to be lifting and moving those chunks of increasingly dead weight around for the rest of my life...

Yet I can't forget them, unlike the entire canon by the bathroom sink.

Thursday, August 09, 2012


submitted  ago by grooviekenn
Background: I grew up in Japan and have been living in the US for the past 15+ years. My grandmother passed away in May and so I returned to Japan after being away for many years. Here is a quick list I compiled of things that I will miss about Japan when I go back to the States tomorrow.

Monday, August 06, 2012


Soon I will be another grandfather, when my daughter Kasumi brings her second baby into the world, a brother or sister for Kaya. In the same way that one is a new father for each of one's own children, one is a new grandfather for each new grandchild.  Another grandfather is a remarkable thing to be, as anyone knows who's ever been one; it's a special experience never twice the same, like being an elephant now and then, or a giant redwood, or a choo-choo train, mountain, horsey or pogo stick, as required, and on through the endless list you now have time for.

It's not being full-time responsibly busy on all fronts, the way parenting was; now is when you get your chance at being that more flexible ancient continuous one we all are, layered over with being whatever you can muster up right now from the mythology: sort of post-graduate parenting. Being another grandfather is a newer thing than I expected. (And what if it's a boy?)

Still, it's not as though you have to learn how to be another grandfather; if you've managed to remain genuine, and still contain the magical savor of your own childhood and parenthood (you find that out with your first grandchild), then every subsequent grandfathering should come as naturally as holding a new hand.  One is already familiar with grandfathering, and whatever you give in that capacity is returned in more than full measure.

One evening recently I was walking with 2-year-old Kaya in the light of sunset, when she pointed to the western sky and shouted: "Pink!" while jumping up and down. I hadn't looked at the sunset in that full-eyed, amazing-discovery way for 60 years and there it was again, fresh as the first time, because I was holding a new hand.


[Wrote this way back then (2003) but never posted it, because Kasumi had twins(!) girls(!) and it got lost in the ensument... Came across it putting the book (Monkeys & Onions) together... RB]

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Why genetically engineered food is dangerous:
New report by genetic engineers

One of the report's authors, Dr Michael Antoniou of King's College London School of Medicine in the UK, uses genetic engineering for medical applications but warns against its use in developing crops for human food and animal feed.
Dr Antoniou said: "GM crops are promoted on the basis of ambitious claims – that they are safe to eat, environmentally beneficial, increase yields, reduce reliance on pesticides, and can help solve world hunger.
I felt what was needed was a collation of the evidence that addresses the technology from a scientific point of view.
Research studies show that genetically modified crops have harmful effects on laboratory animals in feeding trials and on the environment during cultivation. They have increased the use of pesticides and have failed to increase yields. Our report concludes that there are safer and more effective alternatives to meeting the world’s food needs."

Another author of the report, Dr John Fagan, is a former genetic engineer who in 1994 returned to the National Institutes of Health $614,000 in grant money due to concerns about the safety and ethics of the technology. He subsequently founded a GMO testing company.
Dr Fagan said: "Crop genetic engineering as practiced today is a crude, imprecise, and outmoded technology. It can create unexpected toxins or allergens in foods and affect their nutritional value. Recent advances point to better ways of using our knowledge of genomics to improve food crops, that do not involve GM.
Over 75% of all GM crops are engineered to tolerate being sprayed with herbicide. This has led to the spread of herbicide-resistant superweeds and has resulted in massively increased exposure of farmers and communities to these toxic chemicals. Epidemiological studies suggest a link between herbicide use and birth defects and cancer.
These findings fundamentally challenge the utility and safety of GM crops, but the biotech industry uses its influence to block research by independent scientists and uses its powerful PR machine to discredit independent scientists whose findings challenge this approach."

The third author of the report, Claire Robinson, research director of Earth Open Source, said, "The GM industry is trying to change our food supply in far-reaching and potentially dangerous ways. We all need to inform ourselves about what is going on and ensure that we – not biotechnology companies – keep control of our food system and crop seeds.
We hope our report will contribute to a broader understanding of GM crops and the sustainable alternatives that are already working successfully for farmers and communities."
Full article and links at Earth Open Source

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Kyoto Journal/Heian-Kyo Media's latest special publication, on Japan's present and future energy policies-- released on the day angry citizens surrounded the Japanese parliament buildings to demand an end to nuclear power.

"Fukushima has raised, once again, the perennial questions about human fallibility and human frailty, about hubris and man's arrogance in thinking he can control nature. The earthquakes, the tsunami, the meltdown at Japan’s nuclear power plant are nature’s reminders of her power… Alternatives to nuclear energy are a thousand times more abundant and a million times less risky. To push nuclear plants after Fukushima is pure insanity."
— Vandana Shiva

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


"Help us send the kids in Fukushima to camp.

The TA team with children in Fukushima

Because of the Nuclear Plant Disaster, 
the lives of the children in Fukushima 
have been turned upside down. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I was hoping this year to avoid getting physically involved with my zucchini, as I have tended to do in the past - it’s difficult to end some relationships, what can I say. But zucchini have needs. It is said that successful pollination of squash blossoms requires an average of ten pollinators, which seems a lot to ask, up here in the woods where zukes have never lived, historically.

This year, therefore, since in my ongoing naivete I planted a few zuke varieties, to ensure an optimal number of natural pollinators I planted a borage plant right beside each zuke patch, knowing that borage is a top bee attractor cum edible herb; plus the blossoms, which have “a sweet honey-like taste [are] one of the few truly blue-colored edible substances,” as Wikipedia puts it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borage).  The blossoms also look great floating on my wine. Not far behind borage in pollinator attraction is the nasturtium, which - in addition to its bright varicolored beauty - provides edible blossoms, leaves and capery seed buds.

Looked like a sure win-win, but as I often learn in the Big Vegas of Life, that jogging tunnel is
just a painting on that stone wall. Apparently there hasn’t been a succulent full-grown borage plant up here on the mountain for a million years or so, because a few mornings after my two magnificent borage plants neared their full height, those big beautiful blossom-bunches were toppled into caterpillar fodder and the succulent leaves were the ghost of lace. It was a savage sight to see; better to turn away and think of pleasant things.

So bye-bye pollinators, if you were ever here. Within a week or so the nasturtiums had completely disappeared beneath the lush canopy of zucchini leaves over the dark rain forest of vigorous zuke stems and yearning male blossoms and the occasional coy female, but no zucchini.   

Now I have to go out there early in the morning at open blossom time and physically introduce some wallflower male blossoms to some comely female zucchini blossoms, who are all just hanging around under there hoping for quick fruition. This kind of sordid activity can make one cynical, but more importantly, what if my neighbors see me? “Morning, Bob!”

Erotically speaking, though, Japan is a way old culture. I’m sure they’ve seen every strange thing at one time or another, though perhaps not this type of thing, especially involving a foreigner.

I’ll do my best to represent the West.

Monday, July 09, 2012


I didn't see the whole thing, didn't catch the name of the small town, just saw the last bit of a news report I guess it was, then it was gone; clicked in right where some Japanese schoolgirls age 12~13 were walking cheerily along a just-cleared road amidst mounds of tsunami destruction in one of the severely afflicted towns, a place of narrow valleys among small steep mountains where folks still live at heights the tsunami hadn't reached.

As the girls walked along they tossed a volley ball up into the air, chatting and playing, passing through the devastation they had just survived. They were on their way to a playground somewhere, I thought, taking that to be the point of this little clip: have hope, don't give up, get some fun, live on and brighten-- until they arrived at a rare surviving building, slid back the door and entered, put down the ball and each shouldered an old-fashioned basket backpack that was heavy with something. They then departed and with their burdens began walking once more, this time in twos up the steep ways that threaded the sides of the mountains and led to houses up there, mostly occupied by elderly folks cut off from a world that is no more, a world erased as far as they could see.

As the girls neared each house they called out a friendly hello, said their names and Here's lunch! From within came a glad response, the pair then entering to bring a meal to one or more elderly folks who had been waiting. Thus the girls went from house to house, calling friendly greetings and being welcomed with happiness. In this way they were meeting the elderly people in their town, folks they would otherwise never have known but now were visiting daily, knew now by name and feeling, saying good morning not by rote but in a friendly, even familial way, bringing food and new companionship to these elders who in their lonely places were grateful… 

At each house they'd chat a bit, those elders now having two young girls in their daily lives, like family, bringing them aid without obligation, in return the girls having all these grandmas and grandpas; the girls do this every day and they like it, they like the smiles that greet them and the cheer they cause, the chatting with and helping all the elders only yesterday absent from their lives, as it is also for the elders, who are joyed to have youngsters come to their home and relate to them personally, in a caring way -- it was uplifting to behold. 

This is the way it should be, these young women happy to be giving a gift that is more than just the food they bring, each day doing wonders that they never thought of before, in turn receiving the gift that many never come to in all their lives: the understanding that elders need the young, but the young need elders just as much. How better to uplift a society than by such ways as this? Things should be like this, things should always be like this: no distance between the generations, no life without their touch. 

On they go even now, the girls among the smiles, beyond the end of that brief part I saw-- they lift up all those lives with their baskets of food, their warmth and words, happy in calling out Good morning! Hello! See you again tomorrow! and going on their way, up to the next neighbor on the mountain. They are heroes, those girls, to themselves and to us all, even to those who have not seen this little story. 

I will never forget them, walking through that wreckage, rich with future, on their way to share that wealth with those who yesterday were isolated strangers having nothing but a roof and what was left of life, who thanks to the girls have lived to see beauty rise from devastation with a shout of greeting and the wave of a hand, living proof each new day that the heart holds more light than darkness--

As if to give some other depth to the value of this task, at the end of the clip the adult female reporter, who has been following the girls around the mountain paths for the story, one morning tries on one of the baskets filled with bento lunches and staggers backward at the heaviness...


This ramble appears in Kyoto Journal's first digital issue, #76, a fine publication to be released just as soon as the magazine's long-awaited new website is finally launched. Meanwhile, KJ is best tracked here: http://www.facebook.com/kyoto.journal