it's open season on spider real estate, resulting in a hundred fresh new high-rise web condos erected overnight which line my short walk down the hill to school. bug season has officially begun. happy birthday to the billion mosquitoes born last week too. i saw something yesterday that resembled a very young mukade, and i watched it crawling with its many legs across the cement, trying to decide if i should kill it now or let it get bigger, find it again, and then kill it. i wasn't certain certain it was a mukade. desicions, desicions. the shy little grandson of the woman next door spoke to me for the first time as i scrutinized this bug, and i imagine he asked "what are you looking at?" so i just answered "a bug." i hope that's what he said! he might have asked, "where do you come from?" and i gave him a pretty confounding answer.
i just got back from a one-week vacation to tokyo and kyoto for the japan-wide celebration of "golden week," a week where several holidays fall together. the weather was gorgeous but for one rainy day. i had the novel job of "senior japanese speaker" and ordered several of our meals in restaurants. usually i'm the person who knows the least, so it was really a thrill. to their credit, marina's andrea and alix (first time in japan) seemed to do just fine on their own too.
some highlights from the trip were:
meeting a life-size Doraemon!
visiting my old pal the Scary Rabbit of Love:
and getting two free hugs as part of the Free Hug Campaign
oh yeah and seeing mt. fuji in person wasn't bad either.
being from colorado, and having lived only there and washington state hasn't really afforded me the chance to spend much time riding subway trains. i have always had a pure, unadulturated love for them, though. the idea that you can get across a big city in minutes for two dollars and have the chance to stare at people and sit in an industrially-maufactured plastic seat in a variety of colors is pure joy in so many ways! this week, i had the chance to ride the metro alone for the very first time. and it was fine (considering that no matter how you look at it, travelling alone by subway in another language is, well, a little lonely). i figured it out on my own, purchased my ticket, and then had the dismay to get the old "turnstile in the knees" treatment, indicating i had made a mistake of some kind like not paying enough. actually, i guess they were having problems with the tickets that day, because they just let me go through. sigh. the turnstiles don't hurt. it's more like a soft pat to the knees telling you gently but firmly, "now let's think about this. did you ride farther than you planned? do you have the right ticket? let's try it again." at least, that's what it says to me.
i keep meaning to talk about public sleeping, which is incredibly acceptable and relatively safe in japan. when i returned from visiting home last christmas, i had many grueling hours of travel which terminated in a ferry ride from nagoya airport to tsu. settling down in my chair, sleep was determined to overtake me. feeling safe and completely comfortable with being unconscious on a boat full of strangers, i gave in and had a delicious nap. that being said, i love studying the beautiful strangers of japan when they slumber near me. ordinarily i don't photograph them, but by way of example:
i planted some flowers about a month ago because i've moved so many times in the last, oh, nine years, that it hasn't really been worth it to invest the time. before that i had many gardens: flowers, herbs, vegetables. i've really been longing for the sweetness that growing things brings my heart. i never cease to be awed by the miracle of growing things, the smell of good old dirt, and the little space of peace it creates in my mind. last night i went outside to see how my plants were doing, smelled each different bloom (pinks, nasturtiums, petunias, daisies, sweet alyssum, and marigolds), and listened to the evening...pretty quiet. it's the week before mid-terms, so the students aren't allowed to stay late at school practicing sports or instruments. it's one of the only quiet weeks the whole year long. the blue evening was warm and i suddenly sniffed the elusive pine forest scent that i keep thinking i've imagined. it reminds me strongly of a childhood vacation in taos and lazy mornings in colorado's dry summer.