Saturday, September 04, 2004

I’ve Never Met a Tree I didn’t Like

And I’ve never seen a tree I didn’t climb. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but it’s a principle of sorts that I like to go by.

Saturday was spent once again in the forested hill country with my cell phone and bicycle. And what do you know, it turns out that I wasn’t putting my cell phone camera to its maximum potential. I finally discovered the “picture quality” function, and that fact should be evident hence forth. If you have a “thing” for climbing trees, join me in Kazamaura for a good time. It’s like the moon of Endor here.

This is the mountain stream that runs along my favourite gravel road. Since I travel alone, I need to be creative in getting these pictures. For spots right next to the road my bicycle makes an excellent tripod, with the seat serving as a platform. Off road I use logs, stumps and rocks, or else tie my cell phone to a pole or tree with my neck strap. The self timer only goes up to ten seconds, so there’s a lot of running involved as well.

Here I am, finally defeated by the mountain road. Sadly, I got a flat on the way down, so Sunday will be spent on foot. I need to wait for my next shopping journey before I can get a bicycle repair kit.

This is the son-of-a-chestnut-tree that nearly killed me. I checked the upper branches for monkeys, but apparently these things were just raining down on their own, from about twenty metres up. I was able to get some great video footage of me climbing the tree, as well as a “riders-eye-view” of my decent down the road, with the new and improved picture quality level, and I will include it in a future Video of the Week.

After supper I decided to walk the four kilometres to the nearest onsen (public hot spring). On the way there I was picked up by the fifth grader who ushered me around during my elementary school welcome ceremony and his father. When I emerged from the bath two hours later the bath matron said that they had offered to drive me home and that she would give them a call. I earnestly declined, assuring her that I considered it a short distance, and good exercise to boot. In the bath itself I was initially a little taken aback to find some of my girl students running around with their boy cousins. I’m used to the fact that little boys often go with their (grand)mommies and little girls with their (grand)daddies but still, these are little girls I see at school. And of course they’re all excited that the Gaijin teacher is at the onsen so they want to hop in the little cold tub with me. Oh well, they’re all under third grade, and my facial structure and eye colour are my only anatomical features that don’t blend in with the local scenery. On the way home I was picked up again, this time by the family of the first year junior high girl I’m helping to coach for the English speech contest on Wednesday. Good kid, nice family; and they’re already talking about inviting me along to an onsen in the future.