Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Dragon

New Year's Day. Japan. 3:30 pm. Last night the temple bells rang 108 times to rid everyone of their 108 worldly sins. And now it's the Year of the Dragon. Friends send messages filled with inspirational quotes. The news reminds the Japanese of the plight of the tsunami survivors and warns the elderly of the hazards of mochi eating.

And here in Ohtaki-ku, the temperature lowers just enough to cause the snow to slide from the roof in dozens of mini-avalanches. I jump at each rumble then watch as it hits the already high drifts. Snow falling from roof. Obscuring the view of the volcano.

Maybe it's just snow. Or maybe it's 2011. It buries the ornamental cypress bushes, the clothesline pole, the tree trunks. I watch it pile higher and higher. The move from the cabin in the woods. The cat asleep in the sun. The wine drunk. The drive across three time zones. The books read. The canoe paddled. The forty presents opened. The corn husked. The flight to the other side of the world. The hike to the caldera. It all falls without ceremony in chunks of snow and ice.

And today on this first day of The Dragon, I prefer to let it all roar without me. I stay inside. I press the red button of the oil heater and brew a pot of tea. Tomorrow I will shovel it all away. Or try to. The last walk to White Creek. The first time my niece drove a car. The baby girl asleep on the porch swing.