Basho and “The Freeze”

Self is still reading Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

In the poem below, Basho describes entering the province of Kaga:

I walked into the fumes
Of early-ripening rice,
On the right below me
The waters of the Angry Sea.

* * *

The poem suddenly reminds self of her dystopian short story “The Freeze,” which Bluestem Magazine published last year. Sometime while Obama is President, the Russians do something that shuts the whole world down.

Everyone starts dying. A woman decides to walk out of San Francisco and head south. To make sure she doesn’t lose her way, she decides to walk Highway 1, always making sure that the ocean is to her right. She meets a band of teen-agers.

The story begins with the woman chanting the following:

Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.
Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.
Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.

And darn if self hasn’t just decided that the story ended much too soon. She has to continue, if only so she can figure out for herself what happens to the woman and her teen-age companions. She’s thinking: sequel.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Another Basho Sentence

Even while I was getting ready, mending my torn trousers, tying a new strap to my hat, and applying moxa to my legs to strengthen them, I was already dreaming of the full moon rising over the islands of Matsushima.

— from The Narrow Road to the Deep North, translated from the Japanese by Nobuyuki Yuasa

1689, Basho made three major journeys in his lifetime. The Narrow Road was the result of the third and last. He was 50.

Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: Basho

You’re floating in a sea of tranquil words. You’re lost in reading Basho:

In their ecstasy of a single night
Under the moon of summer.

Nothing can be more tranquil than a Basho haiku.

And then:

  • That rugged mountain in the village of Sarashina is where the villagers in the remote past used to abandon their ageing mothers among the rocks.

Bam! It’s like a sudden blow to the head. You never see it coming.

“A Visit to Sarashina Village” is in Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which self started reading about a week ago and which is going to be — self can feel it — the defining reading experience of the summer, if not of the entire 2016. It is a very, very thin book, but self advances about a page a day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Basho left Edo in the spring of 1689 and travelled the great arc of the northern routes (Oshukaido and Hokurikudo) in six months, arriving in Ogaki in the autumn of 1689.

He got to the River Oi and wanted to cross but it had rained all day and the river was too swollen to allow it. He continued without crossing the river until he got to the “steep precipice of Sayo-no-nakayama”:

Half-asleep on horseback
I saw as if in a dream
A distant moon and a line of smoke
For the morning tea.

Self was mistaken about the entire work being written in haiku. Here’s a prose passage:

My head is clean shaven, and I have a string of beads in my hand. I am indeed dressed like a priest but priest I am not, for the dust of the world still clings to me.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.

Stay tuned.

Basho, Still Summer

If nothing else,
I have this tree at least
To take shelter in –
A pasania in summer.

(A pasania — self wasn’t sure what that was, so she looked it up. It’s a type of beech. In the course of looking, she stumbled upon this interesting blog: Street Trees of Tokyo)

The thing with Basho —  feelz get her on every page. Every page.

Stay tuned.

Basho Again, Summer 1676

Who is it that runs with hurried steps,
Flowers of sasanqua dancing on his hat?

— translated from the Japanese by Nobuyuki Yuasa, in his Introduction to Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Basho: Edo, Summer 1676

Finished The Lonely City, started The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Matsuo Basho. It’s a travel book like no other, written in haiku.

In the summer of 1676, Basho returned to his native Edo for a brief visit. He wrote this poem after. It is included in the introduction by translator Nobuyuki Yuasa.

My souvenir from Edo
Is the refreshingly cold wind
Of Mount Fuji
I brought home on my fan.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Personal Library 12

449 + 53 = 502 Total Books Tallied So Far

Self is now starting on the second bookcase in the dining room (Let’s see how long she can keep this up!).  Titles on this shelf include:

The Illustrated Sherlock Holmes TreasuryThe Ophelia Dimalanta Reader:  Selected Prose, vol. 2The World of the Shining Prince, by Ivan Morris;  When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard;  Exactly Here, Exactly Now, by Nadine L. SarrealDeep Light:  New and Selected Poems, 1987 – 2007, by Rebecca McClanahan;  Blood and Soap:  Stories, by Linh Dinh;  The Hmong and the American Immigrant Experience, by Lillian Faderman with Ghia Xiong;  ERAPtion:  How to Speak English Without Really Trial, by Emil P. Jurado and Reli L. German; Life of Pi, by Yann Martel;  Birthmark:  Poems, by Jon Pineda;  The Forbidden Stitch:  An Asian American Women’s Anthology, edited by Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Mayumi Tsutakawa, and Margarita Donnelly (Managing Editor);  Oregon Handbook, 2nd edition, by Stuart Warren & Ted Long Ishikawa (part of the excellent Moon Handbook Travel Series);  The Cebu We Know, edited by Erma M. Cuizon

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Still Happy

Self is happy to be home.  Yes, in spite of the fact that the San Francisco Bay Area is still chilly, and a pesky cough seems to have returned.

Looking through more mail, self finds a rejection from The Alaska Quarterly Review that she chooses to read as cryptically encouraging (if that is not too much of an oxymoron):  “Many thanks” handwritten in the bottom of the rejection note, but no signature.  Still, would an editor have bothered to write “Many thanks” if self’s story had not had some redeeming qualities?  Wouldn’t the rejection note have been left alone if the work was simply un-interesting and un-involving?  You see how the addition of a hand-written “Many Thanks” throws self off completely, dear blog readers?

(Self, there you go again, continually parsing codes.  Not to mention, embarking on the xxxth digression of the year. Focus, self, focus!)

Other stuff in the backlog of mail:  the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal

It is already the end of March.  How quickly the time has flown!  Upcoming on the calendar are :

  • April Fool’s Day:  Sunday, April 1
  • Good Friday:  Friday, April 6
  • Easter Sunday:  April 8
  • Bataan Day (Philippines):  April 9 (commemorates the Fall of Bataan, April 1942, which culminated in the infamous Death March)
  • Tax Day:  April 17
  • Earth Day:  April 22
  • ANZAC Day (Australia and New Zealand):  April 25
  • Arbor Day; South African Freedom Day:  Friday, April 27

Self’s Zen Mind calendar has the following reflection for March:

To open your innate nature and to feel something from
the bottom of your heart, it is necessary to remain silent.

The accompanying illustration is a pen and ink painting of Mount Fuji by the artist Shogetsu, who was active in the latter part of the Meiji Era, from roughly 1880 to 1890.  There is a museum dedicated to his work in Wakakusa, Japan

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Sunday in Bacolod

March is hot.  Last night, surprisingly, it rained.  Cousins had taken her to Italia, which is a really neat restaurant/art gallery.  Last night was the opening for a new exhibit, Fécondé, by Lydia Velasco:  Self saw vivid paintings of striking women in native Filipino (peasant?) attire (salakots, etc), but with pretty fab jewelry, long manicured nails.  The women were dusky, full-lipped, high-cheekboned —  not the traditional-looking Filipino women of Amorsolo.  Self’s favorite was a series called “A Mother’s Love.”

The food was an assortment of Italian-inspired hors d’ouerves, paella (Yumm!  Self cannot seem to restrain herself from eating and eating, this trip.  The first comment made to her by anyone here was:  “Parang tumaba ka.“) and a most delicious pizza (which self was unable to eat, as she was already feeling over-loaded).

Today and yesterday, self’s nails are painted a bright blue.  The manicures here cost 70 pesos ($1.64).  If she gets tired of her blue nails, she’ll pick a new color tomorrow.  The manicurista will be so happy to see her, for self’s usual tip is 30 pesos (70 US cents).

She opens her e-mail and gets a message from the Smithsonian.  She’ll be in Washington, DC in April, for the “Asian American Encounters” at the National Portrait Gallery.  April is cherry blossom time in Washington.  The city will be beautiful.  And, for the first time ever, the husband is accompanying self to one of her literary events.  Yup, he actually got his ticket, before self left for Bacolod.

Since self is such an indefatigable researcher, she finds the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Blog, and discovers that Japan donated 2000 cherry trees to the nation’s capitol in 1910.  Unfortunately, however, those trees arrived “diseased” and the whole lot had to be destroyed.  “Dr. Jukichi Tamine, who had funded the original gift, again put up money for the purchase of more trees . . .  Taken from a variety of cherry trees lining the Arakawa River in Tokyo, 3020 cuttings (or “scions”) arrived for planting in 1912.”

The first Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC was held in 1935.  “Since that time, the gift has been reciprocated several times, as clippings from the DC cherry trees have been sent back to Japan to repair damage (from World War II and other incidents of flooding) to trees that line the Arakawa River.”

Later in April, son and Jennie will be in the Bay Area for a conference.  Happy happy joy joy!  Definitely, we must take them out to dinner.

In the meantime, self plans to spend the rest of the day planning day trips.  She’d love to return to the sugar central in La Carlota.  Never will she forget the sight of an absolute mountain of brown sugar in the warehouse there, in September last year.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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