I see friends shaking hands,
Saying, ‘How do you do?’
They’re really saying,
‘I love you.”
* * *
The thin stream disappears. You come to the sign that declares This is the beginning of the Abe River. You walk a little farther. Five minutes or so. You come to the Abe Pass, a small, roundish patch of flatness . . . a flatness that is almost indiscernible as you approach it.All around the rollicking hills roll down to this one spot. Stand in the middle of it and you feel the thrust of the earth pushing the trees out of the ground every which way, doing all they can to get the canopies of green up to that one big patch of blue sky right above your head. The thrust of the earth rushes up the tree trunks and sets all the leaves aquiver. There’s a breeze, yes, but it’s more than that. You feel it. You see it.
The leaves ripple with the light, shimmer. The dog days of summer have just begun, and the leaves are not yet the slightest bit fazed by the harsh heat. You only wonder if each leaf feels itself a single performer for the sky–or a part of a community, a country, a continent, a cosmos.
And then you look down and see a single leaf fallen. It’s clay red. With suspicious dark spots that ooze an eerie yellow. It’s still soft. And you wonder what it thought, suddenly growing languid, suddenly unable to keep up the dance, this time of the year. What it thought as it struggled to keep a grip and defeat the dizziness, and then drifted down, helplessly, unseasonably, to where it rests now.
You could leave it where it lies. In its open-air tomb beneath the celebration above. Or you could pick it up. Wrap it in a paper towel. Put it in your backpack. Take it home. Stick it in between the pages of a book. But it won’t matter. You’ll still feel the spectacle above all the more grand.
Up you go, up the steep bit to Bara-no-dan. You have a feeling the wind is just strong enough to clear out just enough haze to open up a nice view of Mt. Fuji, snowless in late July. And what do you know. Your feeling is right!
This particular hike was on July 27, for those of you who like to keep score responsibly.
And just look at this mushroom. It looked exactly as it does in the pic. All aglow, its stem nearly invisible, so that it seemed to be hovering, or maybe spinning in midair.
Lots of folks were out playing.
They, too, must have thought it a beautiful day.