Thursday, January 29, 2015


I live in the mountains.  Most of the area is national forest, interspersed with ski areas, campgrounds and hiking trails, but there are strips of fairly densely populated areas which claim to be little towns, mostly on the lakes, and that is where the houses are allowed.  This means that there's a lot of wildlife around, even in the towns.  I've seen a few fat squirrels, a couple of chubby raccoons, several bunnies, a coyote, and now we have a BOBCAT!  I haven't seen it yet, but others have.  It's most likely passing through for a rabbit feast before moving back into the wild forest when the weather warms.

Japan doesn't have native bobcats or related species (cougar, lynx) but there IS a Japanese bobcat.  It's a bobtail cat, descended from domestic cats imported and then released in the 1600s to take care of a growing rodent problem.  They're wild (perhaps feral is the correct term) now, and found everywhere.  Naturally, being clever opportunists, they have found highway rest areas, and are quite friendly when begging lunch.  Many domestic cats are either of this breed or descended from this breed as they have the distinctive short tail, which is a genetic modification.  They are now a registered show breed, as this lovely one shown below.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow cat!

At most ski areas, lower runs are groomed by giant snow cats to smooth the surface and distribute the snow evenly.  This usually happens at night, so all one can really see are the lights.  In SoCal, the need for machine snow (because natural snow is unpredictable and uneven) means that the snowcats groom all the runs, even the steep double-diamond ones, anchored from above as the hills are too steep to drive on.  A couple of days ago, I had the rare treat of seeing the snow cats working on a lower hill.  I took a picture or three, of course!  This is a good one, up close and personal.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Colors of Nature (Haiku)

For days I have been worrying about the lake.  Not that there's anything wrong with it, but the color is so spectacular.  Not gray, not green, with streaks of yellow and pink, places cloudy with ice  -- and so much more, resulting this morning in this haiku.

Colors of Nature

I can't describe the color of the lake.
But I think I could paint it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It's all a wonder.

The scale of the world,
the scale of the sky,
the scale of the galaxy,
the scale of the universe,
pale before the scale of the soul.

This is an infrared photo of the spitzer-helixnebula.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Shades of light/Haiku

Sunlight shatters white on the snow;
in the house the fire
glows with warm orange flame.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What about boats?

Japan is a leader in shipping.  As an island nation, Japan has always traded, over or under the table, with its neighbors.  The nation also heavily uses the resources of the ocean like fish, sea vegetables, and shellfish.  Deep sea fishing boats go far offshore.  Many of the boats, though, are coastwise fishing vessels, like these.  The design of these boats hasn't changed much -- though construction materials, engines and electronics have -- in a very long time.

Pleasure boaters are often sports fishers, but that doesn't mean the Japanese don't like sailing.  They field highly competitive international racing boats, and are very competent sailors.  They also start young.  The photo below shows a sailing class in Beppu, on the island of Kyushu, not all that far from where Azuki and Shota lived.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Not a local mountain: haiku

I was in a gorgeous place today, mostly new to me, with spectacular winter views, and no time at all to grab even single phone photo.
Instead, I'll see if I can toss off a haiku.  Haiku particularly are a form of poetry that is meant to be a spontaneous response to something immediate, capturing the emotion triggered by nature or event.   Of course, the 5-7-5 format refers to kanji and kana, not actually syllables, so haiku translated from the Japanese, or into Japanese, won't meet the requirements in the other language -- unless you are seriously fluent in both, and pretty good at haiku, too.  I think that would be very hard to do.
In this one, I have stuck to 17 syllables, but I haven't broken lines at the 5-7-5 breaks.  This, if I understand the form correctly, is fine.

My Day

The sky is cerulean, reflecting joy in the white of the snow.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Little Cold

Shokan, the season of "little cold", begins in Japan January 5.  As winter settles in for a visit, the land seems to settle in for a rest.  The trees, though, are already beginning to get their buds ready for spring.  Look closely.  Nature cycles, and nature sleeps, but it doesn't stop.  There is purpose in the stillness.