The headlights swooped into Kate’s front yard and with them the first of many pleasant surprises that day: Dude & Trouble are not famed in hiker circles for their early starts. Kate and I are morning people. I’d never had a girlfriend who could function at 4:30am, and here she was making sandwiches — big sandwiches. Both of us were raring to go; in fact I’d hardly slept with the excitement. Apart from that short-but-spectacular New Year’s hike in the snow on my first visit, the Adirondacks for me were an open book. Now the plan was to meet Pouch & Nemo at the trailhead upstate and plough through my first four chapters in one hit.
I was about to resume my American series with this post, but then, damn it, I had another praying mantis encounter — my third, which seemed somehow significant. Voila: instant trilogy! Not exactly Lord of the Rings or The Godfather, I’ll admit, but the body count does keep growing, entertainingly, I hope…
I’ve had a bad cold the last few days — think I pushed myself a little too hard in Tokyo for an old guy — and enjoyed Tuesday and yesterday at home. (And in a bakery — my second home.) And then today, as I was trudging to school, I became aware of an eerie silence, a delicious feeling of calm. My pulse quickened but I told myself to hold my fantasies in check — and then I entered the school grounds to find the place deserted.
It’s been a mighty good season for the dragonfly freak. Summer has been hot, dry and interminable (yes, it’s officially Autumn now, but you wouldn’t know it — I’m writing this outside in T-shirt and shorts), and it seems to me that my favourite insects, the dragonflies, are hanging around a lot longer than last year — and in even greater numbers.
Remember that wintry couple of days I stayed at Wing Road Farm, just out of Saratoga Springs, in January?
Tokyo was a trip. I’m still recovering: my calves are sore, I’m rundown and cranky — and waking from a dream adventure to find yours is the only discernible pulse in a classroom full of dead-eyed rag dolls is the cruelest of reality crashes. What I really need, though, is a post-holiday holiday to grab some sleep. I spent one night in a wet sleeping bag on a 1,364m mountaintop harassed by God’s searchlight, a Chuseok full moon (just as I was a year ago on the third-highest peak in Korea). The following night, my last in Tokyo, was likewise far from restful. Bedding down in the bushes in a buzzing megalopolitan park seldom is.
This afternoon I collapse onto another plane to begin my Chuseok holiday; a mercifully brief two hours later I’ll be landing at Narita for three days and four nights in Tokyo. I can’t wait.
Last weekend, reaching the top of a local hill — the one I nicknamed Dead Man’s Peak — I was startled to discover that some renaming might be in order.
Hours fly, Flowers die, New days, New ways pass by, Love stays ~ Inscription on the Yaddo sundial by poet Henry Van Dyke, a friend of the Trasks I love gardens, and if I had a won for every hour I’ve spent crawling around in the verges and weedy embankments of Korea trying to shoot flowers (and the critters that choose to hunt, feed or fornicate upon them), I’d be — well, not too well off, ’cause a won is pretty much worthless. In fact I sometimes throw handfuls of them in the trash ’cause what’s the point of ’em? Useless wallet ballast is all. But that’s another blog post.
One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity, there ain’t nothin’ can beat teamwork ~ Edward Abbey Hey, people. A brief interruption to scheduled programming, and the ongoing/interminable Upstate Saga, so I can spit out a bit of rage before it burns a hole somewhere painful. I’ll have the next American chapter — a far happier affair — out in a couple of days. Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to hug your favourite tree!
I’m a battlefield groupie from way back. I remember on the first of my six visits to the States, in 1993, spending a cold and atmospheric hour or two with a then-girlfriend wandering in the rain through the misty Union lines outside Vicksburg, Mississippi. Somewhere there’s some pictures in an album. Sometime…
Okay, here’s where most days started and ended on my little eight-or-nine-day adventure in Upstate New York: Kate’s place in an outer suburb of Saratoga Springs. A nice modest little place with a big sprawling backyard, a few oaks and maples and other trees I couldn’t recognise. A couple of clumps of echinacea still holding their own, lots of cool, damp grass, various perennials giving up and keeling over before the advancing Summer.
I went through the wrong gate at Beijing Airport on my way back from the States, and instead of being released into the toxin bath of the Beijing night, and somehow locating my $50 hotel, was funnelled into the hermetically sealed wasteland of the cavernous departure lounge.
Hey, people. I’m taking a break from blogging for a while. It might be a short while, it might be a long while, it might be a permanent while. I’ve got a lot of stuff chewing up my attention these days, a respectable number of worries and woes, and the ongoing preparations for a caper or two that demand focus. If all that ain’t enough, my laptop seems to have died its final death, and the WordPress app for iPad is truly woeful — I’d rather blog by pointy rock and coconut. Not worth doing the thing if I can’t do it well, or at least tolerably well.
Howdy again. I’ve been a terrible blogger of late — I know it — but I start redeeming myself right here and right now. What’s it been since the last post, a week or so? Unforgivable — I was shooting for two or three posts per week, pre-computer breakdown. The shocking truth is that I can’t even blame the breakdown. Two Fridays ago, after skipping school at lunchtime and enduring one of those bruising trawls through the shabby Busan backstreets that I do so well, just as I was admitting defeat and retreating to the subway, I chanced upon a sign, which led me to an exit, and then a stairway, and finally the nondescript office building housing the approved Apple service joint serving the Southeast. A few minutes with the just-barely English-speaking technician, an arcane configuration of fingers on keys — something out of an I.T. Karma Sutra — and this here laptop was purring like a phlegmatic kitten.
Hey, all. It’s been a while, eh? Well, first the bad news (with me, you always get the bad news first): my significant other is no more. Relax, not Kate — we’re doing fine! At least, we were last time I checked. No, my once-trusty MacBook Pro bit the dust yesterday, a crippling blow to the world of medium-quality blogging. She just up and died after a mere three years of (admittedly heavy-duty) service. Suddenly I feel like the Lone Ranger without his Native American trusty steed.
The thrill had gone. I just wasn’t feeling it. Seemed the joy of strutting out into the Sunday dark at 4:30am had worn off. Maybe it was the rain. Or maybe these rice-paddy rambles were just getting old. Maybe I was — it was my birthday after all. Well, I was up, and moving, sort of. Might as well keep on going now.
Well I came across a child of God, he was walking along the road And I asked him, tell where are you going, this he told me: Well, I’m going down to Yasgur’s farm, going to join in a rock and roll band. Got to get back to the land, set my soul free ~ Joni Mitchell (performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), ‘Woodstock’ I’m not goin’ back to Woodstock for a while, Though I long to hear that lonesome hippie smile. I’m a million miles away from that helicopter day No, I don’t believe I’ll be goin’ back that way. ~ Neil Young, ‘Roll Another Number (For the Road)’ Hippies are squares with long hair And they don’t wear no underwear Country rock is on the wane I don’t want music, I want pain! ~ Dictators, ‘Master Race Rock’
Hey, all. I’m tapping this up in my favourite local cafe, after a Monday that began less than ideally with a student collapsing, distraught, onto the floor after I pretended to award his (evidently much-cherished) Rubik’s Cube as a prize to another student. My humour does not always settle comfortably into the Korean classroom.
Yesterday I woke even earlier for my Sunday ramble — ridiculously early, even for me — and hit the street before the first sunbeams. Thumped zombie-fashion down to the Yulha again, ambled its banks (where the coreopsis thickets that featured in the last post are starting to die off), climbed to the road and down to the rice paddy edges, dodged the odd early-starting dump-truck driver heading to or from the highway construction scarring the valley walls, took a few halfhearted shots of spiders and reflections and finally admitted that I didn’t know where the hell I was heading.