I overshot my trainstop last night, lost in reading something, and ended up at Kitakamakura station, from where, for nearly twenty years I would usually walk up the steep valley road, past temples and dark forests, back to our house.
Since the operation I have been taking the bus from the stop before that – Ofuna, a bustling little transit and shopping hub with a lot of after hours night life, the same predictable routine every night but my legs still are not quite robust enough to tackle the steep incline at the top, much as I would love to : instead, I sit with my head facing forward on the bus like all the other tired commuters as we are shuttled back steadily to our bus stops and our homes.
Last night though, when the train doors opened onto the night air I almost gasped ( in fact I actually might have ): at the sheer vegetal richness that was suspended in the air – a loamy, warm green canopy of just blossomed flowers; sleeping pollen; moist earth, still wet in the undergrowth from the previous day but sun baked during this glorious one; the freshwater smell from the pond across from Engakuji temple where frogs croaked much louder than you imagine they should have; amplified by the darkness and the stillness ( I decided to walk, no matter what, and had complete solitude, not a soul, until I almost reached the top)
What hit me so hard, and so immediately, was just how much I have missed this walk. The peace of it, the tranquillity after a long day of teaching in Fujisawa and Yokohama – the mysteriousness of what lies behind the temple gates in the gardens beyond the monks’ quarters; the mamushi snakes that lurk in the grass, all the flowers : now wild irises, callum lilies, azaleas, dandelions, the dark, peaty smell of fresh vetiver grass used to stave off flooding, it is more this – the smell, the smells, that I bathed in last night, all so familiar to me, as familiar as perfumes from the past, an inchoate, emotional recognition in the pit of my pituary, as though my life here were voiced in those plants –