Thursday, February 13, 2014


This morning I had the huge dawn fortune of going out into snow-cleared air and walking past all the fence posts with their high snow caps and beyond them the views of frosted mountains, the Lake like wet granite glazing off to mountains on the other side, then mountains beyond them, and beyond all the unrisen sun casting pastel glows and purple charcoal shadows out over everything as the mountains allowed, all hanging still in the silence of the air, just hanging all around out there, timeflake by timeflake: Lake, sky, mountain, air, all that spectacularity just being there and doing nothing in particular, just the everything it always does, seen or unseen, praised or unpraised, loved or unloved, the same everything that matters to the seeker who is the living soul within a body that, just risen from the winter of night in deep need of a spirit breakfast, to feast upon such colors and lights, scents and silences, distances and shadings, nearnesses and brilliances, topographies, delineations, and so in snow boots I alone in all that majesty walked, slowly, down, through, white, toward something that had to do with - a matter, I was sure, that in other moments I have deemed important somehow, and when I got to the car, which was mine, I opened the door with the key I happened to have at hand and started the engine as I remembered, shook my head to get back closer to this life of time and moments, having just been for some immeasurable measure among heavenly things...

Friday, February 07, 2014


Like Dirty Harry or some other manly man said - maybe it was Shane or Rhett Butler, though in slightly different words - Sometimes a man's gotta do what his wife says he's gotta do. 

How true, that truism, even in the middle of a heavy snowstorm up on a mountainside in modern-day Japan, where wintry impulses can drive wives in certain strange ways, one wife deciding, for no husbandly pinpointable reason, to make a big batch of daikon pickles the old-fashioned way using a traditional brown ceramic pickle crock of the kind seen out here in the countryside, which is all well and good, though this is one of those BIG pickle crocks - so big I could take a bath in it, but she'd kill me - and all is going well: the daikon are pared, sectioned, further smallified and laid out carefully to fill the crock, then the pickling stuff is added, until right at the end comes the crucial part, when a large, heavy weight is needed to place atop the mass of protopickles, weigh them down and in time compress them into full pickledom.

Thus it was that, as husband, I donned my heavy hooded snow jacket and my deep snow boots, shouldered my way out the door into the howling blizzard and began to wade through the snow (finally it snowed!) in search of  just the right rock. I knew it was out there somewhere beneath all that white: the rock of ideal weight, size and shape - lies flat, smooth, easy for a small woman to safely grip for lifting in and out of a big ceramic crock, yet heavy enough to compress a big batch of firm, but buoyant daikon slices.

Not many times in the lives of the dauntless men of history has one such rugged individual found himself pushing his way through a blinding blizzard with a big broom in one gloved hand and a conveniently sized whisk broom in the other, in search of the perfect rock for pickles. I'm fairly sure I may be a pioneer here - I seem to have a lot less daunt than I used to, and my boots are rugged - so I guess I was creating a new man-genre for the modern day, broadening the macho spectrum, setting the bar for picklers who come after, which is why I had the brooms, because foresight and optimization are key in these Indiana Jones situations, it’s a matter of survival, bottom line, in terms of both weather and uxorial relations, so in this case it helped a lot that I just happened to know where there were some excellent rocks out there in the howling blizzard beneath the deep snow - even as darkness was falling - and that some of those rocks might just meet the pickling parameters. So what if the Spring thaw reveals a big picklerock-shaped gap in the stone-wall-to-be; those will be new times, as all times are new, with new solutions visible to the naked eye elsewhere on the property. 

When I made it to where I thought the rock wall was (I didn't miss by much) I used the big broom to sweep the top row of rocks clear, then dusted to further detail with the whisk broom so I could assess the rocks in their individuality, much like a diamond merchant in Amsterdam. All men in snowstorms looking for that special picklerock for their wife can definitely use a good whisk broom; you can take that to the bank, so to speak, or write it down in case your wife... well, you know how these things happen, these torques of fate that launch you hunched over into a blizzard packing two brooms. Nothing new, right?

The pickles, which by the way rank in the upper echelons of probiotic aristocracy, are now fermenting in a downstairs closet.

Time to get back to doin' the things a man's gotta do.