All posts tagged: food

magpie standing on person's foot

Back Among My People

G’day, all. The standard apologies for the long time between posts, the tardiness of my response to always-appreciated comments, and for just generally being an awful human being. I’ve been back in the Bayside suburbs of Brisbane for a couple of weeks now, and am pretty well adjusted (by my standards), though there’s been a fair deal of lonesome soul-searching… ..and I do miss the feeling of short- and longer-term purpose that a multi-week walk provides, not to mention the simple daily routine of morning coffee, walking, vending machines, convenience stores, photography, nightly beer, and eating anything I damned well please in between. (No wonder I actually put on weight despite walking around a thousand miles in those three months in Japan…) I also miss the constantly rewarding 88-temple photographic project, though the editing and displaying aftermath of the actual picture-making is keeping me busy, as it will for several months to come. Meanwhile, there are occasional storms to keep me entertained back here in the subtropical Summer — including one predicted for tonight — and I’ve resumed …

pilgrim feet on temple steps

Going Against the Flow: Pilgrim Portraits on the Shikoku Henro

ON A HASHIHAMA-BOUND TRAIN, THURSDAY MORNING Hi again, all. Well, my pilgrimage may be over but the journey and adventure roll on. I stayed two nights in Matsuyama, back at Sen Guesthouse right near Dogo Onsen, after a 3.5-hour bus trip across the island from Tokushima. It was great to be back there, and hosts Nori and Matt greeted me warmly. Many stories from the trail were shared. Danielle, my saviour from several weeks ago when she rescued me from that Family Mart and took me to Sen to recuperate, came over last night for a visit. First night was spent here… ..but last night I moved downstairs to a tatami-floored dorm room. I replaced some of my gear (nights are getting chilly), sent some home, and had two more hot-spring baths while I was there, and last night we retired to the rooftop for sunset with a journalist who was in town to do a story about the Shikoku Pilgrimage. Her timing was impeccable and she nearly ran out of iPhone juice recording my …

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The Backwards 88, Day 47: And Then, Suddenly, I Ran Out of Temples

Hey, all! Yes, the circle will be unbroken — thanks for asking. At 4:50 this afternoon I entered the temple gate at number 1, bringing me back to where I started, completing a 1,200- or 1,300km loop of Shikoku and a 47-day tour of 88 freakin’ temples. I guess I’m in pretty good shape for an old bastard as my sum total of aches and pains after all that tarmac-pounding and mountain stomping is: zero. In fact I was seldom tired for more than five minutes on the whole walk. Injuries: three missing toenails (keep your eye out), some degraded toe skin, aching knees when I woke yesterday — but they’re fine today. I think I’m getting good at this stuff! As Matt (a former henro along with his wife Nori) at Sen Guesthouse back in Matsuyama said when I was there, you’re just starting to get good at the whole thing and then you reach the end. A damned shame. I have all my rituals and routines down, and have nights in my tiny tent/bedroom/ office/base camp …

motorcycle buddha

The Backwards 88, Day 40: Pilgrim Postcards

[You might have received this post in your inbox erroneously titled “Day 39”. I just realised I’d lost a day! It happens on the blurry path to wisdom!] A LAWSON’S STATION KONBINI, KAINAN, TOKUSHIMA PREFECTURE ~  Morning, all. As threatened, here’s another batch of shots from the last week or so, mostly of scenes and subjects encountered between temples. I enjoy both my subject areas, the temples themselves and the stretches of road and path linking them, for different reasons. The temple one is far more challenging. My aim is to capture a sense of the place that is different from the others, and respond to it artistically in the conditions in which I find it. Believe me, with 88 of them to deal with, that can get pretty tough! As someone who doesn’t believe in anything, I’m obviously not reacting to the places in any spiritual sense. I’m interested in them as places, and judge them on aesthetic grounds, how they relate to their environment, their architecture and landscaping, historical elements etc. Avoiding repeating …

mountaintop sign asahi-dake

The Highest Man in Hokkaido

Hey, folks. First of all today, would you like to see my Nikkas? Happy to oblige. First, here’s one of the pair of convenient travel-sized bottles I bought in the gift shop just before boarding the cable car up the side of Asahi-Dake a few days ago. The kind lady even wrapped each one in bubble-wrap without me even asking: And here’s one I took last night as I walked home from dinner to my third (and best) capsule hotel, here in Sapporo, Hokkaido. This is at the other end of the Nikka size spectrum: I do believe in the responsible consumption of ‘alcohol,’ even in the mountains, just like the authorities in Japan. Me, I like to keep the manner, and I do my best swearing in private: That gondola: I don’t really believe in the things. They’re like bridges to islands — they kinda mess with definitions. If you can fly halfway up the side of a mountain in minutes, is it still a mountain? But dang, that pack of mine was heavy. …

magpie sitting on pack

Leader of the Pack

“Hey, little dudes! How’s it goin’?” My magpie welcoming party always assembles the same way: one sharp-eyed individual — The same one each time? Who can say? — leaves its fellows, takes to the air, and swoops low over the grass to bank and land with breathtaking pizzaz just in front of me: By the time its relatives have spied my approach and joined the party, the first arrival has usually burst into that ecstatic warble that is such a familiar presence in the Australian landscape, rural and urban, beginning before dawn and continuing at irregular intervals till the sun goes down or even later: The tribe takes up position. There are always at least a dozen, usually several more, and several of these will herald my return with an infectious and oft-repeated eruption of glorious song, puffing out their chests till they seem set to explode, tilting back their heads, pointing their formidable beaks at the sky as they sing. It’s the largest group I’ve ever observed — “our” magpies at home form a tight family …

two pelicans redcliffe

A Sunset Swim in Pelican Country

I just had a helluva week of walking and photography, one of my best ever. Just about every morning and evening last week I managed a beautiful, productive and fulfilling excursion to one of three or four favourite local rambling spots. Each day I did 6-10 miles, sometimes more. Some was familiar territory: the Boondall Wetlands, Cabbage Tree Creek, the Pine Rivers mouth. Some was new, like my first real chance to take pictures in thick pre-dawn fog over the waterfront, and my first proper (though short) missions down the mangrovey south bank of the Pine. But even the old places shone. I managed several really nice images, tried lots of variations, saw them in new conditions, or enjoyed those happy collisions with chance that make photography so unpredictable and fun. Unfortunately I got home each night pretty beat (often my day had started at 3:30 or so, and I’m trying to resist the urge to nap), and other than uploading the pictures, got little else done — certainly no danged blog posts. So tonight I’m employing a strategy …

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The Predator Above

Breakfast, when I’m living alone, is the only meal of the day I consistently enjoy. For months now it’s been taking place in the park here in Sandgate after a few miles of seaside wandering in the good light just before and after dawn. That hour or so before the summer heat (forget what your calendar says — it’s Summer) and glaring light reach intolerable levels is often my last taste of the outdoors until the sun’s low in the sky again in late afternoon. I’m a poor excuse for a Queenslander, I know. Even that early, I’m rarely alone in there. There’s a group of ladies with a small herd of mop-like mutts, and then there are the three or four locals who gather daily under the rotunda or on a neighbouring bench and routinely start drinking beer by 6:30am. Sometimes they even bring an esky (“cooler” in American); it’s a big esky. They’re a pretty quiet bunch, at least until the second can or so, and the only conversation I’ve ever followed was an entertaining discourse on the correct preparation …

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Two Riders Were Approaching, the Wind Began to Howl

CHRISTMAS 2010, SOMEWHERE IN THE SWISS-GERMAN HEARTLAND I’ve never enjoyed Christmas much as a (relative) grown-up, but I loved my introduction to the European version. In Australia, backyard beers and sizzling sausages on a 30C afternoon, followed incongruously by hot, heavy — and admittedly delicious — pudding drowned in custard and littered with antique threepenny coins, had just never worked for me. But this felt like the real thing. It actually seemed possible to believe that something deeper or more meaningful than an orgy of shopping, eating and bad television was taking place in this ancient little town between Zurich and Lucerne.

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The Modestly Sized Five-O

Life is funny, eh? I’ve been reviewing and (groan) re-editing some of my photos from my two years in Korea. And inevitably recalling my time there: the odd adventure, spells of solace among flowers and insects or half-starved dogs, but mostly the grinding monotony of much of each workday, the unspeakable (though I do speak about it a lot) horror of the Korean middle-school classroom, the tired-out or just-plain-wrung-dry landscapes, domino rows of identical apartment blocks, the mess and trash and tormented waterways — and my two birthdays there.

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Danger: Thin Ice!

What the hell is my weather app playing at? was my thought as I left home a couple of hours ago for my five-mile walk downtown. “Sunshine and cloud mixed” and 6C or so were to be my rewards for surviving till the first full day of (official) Spring; the reality was swirling snowflakes, a cold breeze and only two fleeting appearances by an ever-submissive sun.

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I Christen Thee the Woodpecker Trail

G’day, folks, and thanks for all the good wishes I received after my first New York-based post. I’ve been here a little over a week now and am acclimatising in more ways than one — Americans say acclimating: there’s another thing I have to acclimate to — and I haven’t been troubled by cold since that cry for help about frozen fingers in the last post. I’m getting used to the snow…

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A Place in the Sun/Footprints in the Snow

Somewhere over the mid-Pacific I swapped my camo hunting cap (found dangling on a tree in Pennsylvania while hiking the A.T.) for a beanie, arranged my flimsy, handkerchief-sized blankie and folded myself into an approximation of sleep. I always book a window seat when I can to avoid contact with fellow passengers, and refrain from bathroom trips if possible, a challenge that passes the time while building self-control and Olympic-standard bladder endurance. I managed 12 hours on this trip, I’m proud to say. Just limit your free drinks to a single gin and tonic and try not to look at the ocean.

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Back on the Monkey’s Forehead

Well, much of the country is on fire again, but up here in Brisbane it’s been pretty damned nice. I think I’m getting used to the heat, the worst of which was visited upon this, the third-largest city, just before I got back from Korea. My ongoing project continues and its conclusion and some exciting news are in sight. I’ve done a lot of catch-ups with old friends, have been into the apparently hip city a couple of times (first impressions: beer is expensive, people are much larger here, there’s almost as much cigarette smoke as in downtown Gimhae, and there are too many street musicians) and have managed a short bike ride and lots of photography every day between bursts of work on my project. My friend Chris (he tells me we’ve known each other 10 years) and I had been talking about a trip to Moreton Island and my third circumambulation of the world’s third-biggest sand island, but I decided I couldn’t spare the time and that three days’ worth of mid-Summer-hot white …

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Inokashira: Back to the Source

PEAKS & PILGRIMAGE TOKYO, 2013 I seemed to spend half my waking life on the Chuo Line when I lived in Tokyo. Now I was once again jumping into one of the familiar orange carriages at Nishi Kokubunji, playing a little game of Guess the Next Station from Memory as our kaisoku (rapid) train sped inbound: Kokubunji, Musashi-Koganei, Higashi-Koganei, Musashi-Sakai, Mitaka — and then the next stop on my high-speed visit to places from my Tokyo past: Kichijoji.

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Woodstock: Journey’s End

Time is a jet plane, it moves too fast Oh, but what a shame if all we’ve shared can’t last ~ Bob Dylan, “You’re a Big Girl Now” Time passes slowly up here in the mountains We sit beside bridges and walk beside fountains ~ Bob Dylan, “Time Passes Slowly” Well, which is it, Bob? That first lyric came to me right away as I was starting this; the second followed soon after. There’s a line from Bob for most of the interesting stages, stops and detours on life’s ever-winding highway — more than a few for the inevitable breakdowns and collisions as well.