Hello, hello! What a lovely day! Why don’t we drive up to Umegashima—it’s only an hour from here—and take a walk in the woods. The trees should be gorgeous right about now.
All the Hearty Hikers are going.
Including those two guys, Shizuoka Duo, who fancy themselves as “homegrown folk singers.”
And you know what they like to sing:
If you have the time / To come along with me
The will to climb / To where you can see . . .
So come on, let’s go.
Okay, okay. The truth is we’ve already gone. We’re already back.
But we wish you’d been there. And we guess that some of you, given the fact that today is Nov. 3, 2016, are going to be mighty stressed out for the next five or six days. Some of you may even have some sleepless nights. A walk in the woods might help.
And we’ve got great confidence in these mountains that surround Umegashima, home, by the way, to some of the most soothing hot springs you’ll find anywhere. Soft, soft water. An hour soak for 400 yen—maybe $3 US.
Yeah, we’ll surely stop by our favorite tub on the way back.
We’re pretty sure that you’re going to love what you see. And we’re pretty sure (as long as we don’t talk politics . . . I’m trying to reduce your stress, not add to it), that when the day is done, you’ll think we Hearty Hikers are a mighty fine lot.
I must confess I’ve felt a lot of stress this election season myself—and I don’t even live in the U.S.
But I do read a bit of social media from time to time and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been called a “simpleton” or a “moron” or a “scumbag”—or (my favorite) a “f–king idiot.” No, people haven’t said to me directly, “Hey, Steve, you are a f–king idiot!” . . . but they have said that anyone who thinks xxx—which is exactly what I do think—is a f–king idiot. So I can’t help but conclude, having studied logical syllogisms in college, that they think I’m one, too.
Maybe I am.
But I still don’t like to be called one. You probably don’t, either.
So if you’re going to come with us today, we’d prefer that you didn’t ask us what we think about the election.
Because, if current polls are to be trusted, there’d be about a 50/50 chance of you thinking I was indeed a f–king idiot.
Tough discussions are necessary sometimes. For sure. But if your “discussion” is going to lead you to call someone a f–king idiot, then I’d say it’s much, much better just to take a walk in the woods and look up at some trees. Better just to look all around.
Better to say together, with everyone, no matter who everyone is, “Man, that’s beautiful!”
Better to keep gazing out over the ridge at Fuji-san, with everyone, enjoying how majestically she sits on the horizon.
After fifty or sixty “Man, that’s beautiful!,” after five or six hikes, we might be able to talk a bit about government and social issues, but the election will unfortunately be over by then.
Okay, enough talk. Let’s go.
Oh! I should warn you, though. Those Shizuoka Duo guys, they get giddy up in the mountains. If they could keep their joy to themselves, that would be one thing, but they can’t. Before you know it, they’ll burst out singing, singing really loud . . . AND — THEY — CANNOT — SING — IN — KEY!
But let’s forgive them. And let’s get going. I really have talked way too much.
The hour is getting late.
A beech leaf!
Our dear friend Fuji!
Red maples! (With a touch of orange!)
Maples on fire!
The warm glow of persimmons!
I mean, the warm glow of maples! Embers in the breeze!
And what do you know! The southern Alps have decided to come to the party!
And there’s our dear friend Fuji again!
And more . . .
. . . and more maples!
Beech trees, birches, and maples!
The number of trees in the picture below is a bit difficult to discern, but you can see clearly the thick trunk of the tree with the green leaves.
It’s a pretty old tree and has rotted out a bit . . . and into the two big holes in its trunk, leaves have fallen and decomposed, and in those “garden pots” have sprung up a maple tree (look for the yellow) and a mountain azaela (look for the red). It has become three trees in one? Wow! Who’s your enemy? Who’s your friend?
A mountain azaela!
And of course, as the day winds down—yes, yes, I’m a little tuckered out, too—susuki. Pampas grass.
Okay! Off to the hot springs! Gonna feel mighty good!