Sunday, August 17, 2008

the First Notes of Fall

Walking yesterday evening I looked to the hillsides above the village. The fading light of the day lay on the tree tops at a low angle--not the sun of summer. The mountains had a crispness that is not present in the damp heat of July and early August. Each tree stood out clearly from it's neighbor, sharp shadows defined the spaces between.

Clouds billowed into the sky like the tops of souffles cresting the ridgelines surrounding Otaki.

As dark descended a layer of moisture blanketed the trees and plants, cooling the air. I pulled a jacket from my pack and zipped myself into it.

A full moon rose and took it's place in southeastern corner of the sky. The landscape glowed silver and I spotted Mt. Ontake crouching shyly in the back of a canyon, a veil of clouds at it's crown.
I felt drawn by the mountain. Soon I was in my car speeding up the eastern slope past the large stone monuments that denote the returned spirits of the dead. I stopped in the middle of one of the ski gerunds, which was full with weeds and grasses, the occasional flower. A dormant ski lift stood looming in the near distance. Scrambling over tarp-covered lift chairs I planted my feet on the lift's platform. Here I was awarded a clear view of the Otaki valley that stretched out below me--clouds lay between the ridges, sleeping like curled dogs.

A cool breeze came up from the Kaida plateau on Mt. Ontake's western slope, rustling the trees and producing a symphony of odd sounds: creaks, pops, and wooshes. I was cold and a bit unnerved, so I returned to my car.

I drove back down the moon-lit mountain. "Summer's over", I thought.

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