hate being sick. The irritating, scratchy throat. The
congested sinuses, the hot-headed, cold-bodied temperature
dichotomy. The dull, slow kind-of feeling, like someone
has gutted you and stuffed your body full of wool.
in sick, of course. Had four classes and I'm not sure
if they'll be rescheduled. One of them was the special
ed class and I'm going to hear no end to how much they
missed me and my class, yadda yadda yadda but what
am I going to do, eh? Today, I'm comforting myself with
my memories of the weekend, Star Trek: TNG episodes on
tape (compliments of my Canadian
neighbors), hot Quaker Apples and Cinnamon Oatmeal,
cold orange juice, and the illustrious Kyoko Fukuda. So
click on that play button, sit back, relax, and let me
tell you all about the exciting, action-packed world of
woke up early on that evenful Saturday to a frightening
realization. I couldn't remember where I was. More frightening
perhaps, was the fact that I couldn't recall... well,
pretty much anything, including my name.
After a couple frantic seconds it all came crashing back
to me. I've had memory problems as long as I can remember
(hmmm... there's a problem with that sentence),
but this is a real problem, don't you think? And
before you ask, no I was not drinking the night before.
Maybe it was just a blip on the screen. I think it's probably
time for another CAT scan, my last one was two years ago.
I've got to start taking my ginkgo biloba more regularly.
so I wake up an hour and a half before my alarm clock
is supossed to go off and I can't get back to sleep, so
I get on Napster
and find this guy who's got the entire new Shiina Ringo
CD on his hard drive. I started downloading, but he cut
me off after a few songs (guess he thought I was getting
too greedy) and then I realized that I was going to
be late to meet Kara to go to the bamboo farm.
Incarnate Walks Among the Peasants
course, Kara was waiting for me and she was strangely
unsuprised that I was late. We went to the Family Mart
where someone (I think he works at one of Kara's schools)
was going to pick us up on his way to the farm. So we're
waiting outside of the Family Mart and down the street
walks the most incredibly gorgeous Japanese girl I'd ever
seen. She was about 22 years old; purple sweater, black
skirt, black leather purse, long straight jet black hair
(this from me, who never pays any attention to what
anybody's wearing) and a fantastic figure. I couldn't
believe it. It was only at this moment that I truly woke
up. The traffic, the heat, and whatever Kara was saying
just faded out. Her light gait was accompanied by music
in Dolby® Surround Sound stereo and slow motion effects.
Breathtaking. Oh, my... I had to work hard
to keep Kara from noticing that I was gaping and I probably
failed anyway, but she was just too nice to point out
my blatent display of maledom. Just another snapshot moment
in the gallery of the world which makes me happy to be
at the Farm
the bamboo farm is a side of a small mountain (or a
large hill, if you prefer). There's this small gasoline-powered
platform that moves along a track, reminds me of a mining
cart. They use it to transport the bamboo down the mountain.
harvesting season is relatively short. Those suckers grow
fast, too. Bamboo is one of the only plants which if you
sit down and watch it, you can see it growing.
It grows at the rate of one meter per day!
anyway, Kara, me, our driver and his kid get there and
we plod along the muddy path up the mountain (it had
rained the night before).
up bamboo is not at all easy. You have to use this pick-ax
thing (as shown in the photographs at the left) and dig
below the surface without damaging the bamboo shoot. And
you have to cut them from the right direction or else
it's 10X harder. You should only pick shoots at a certain
height (age), older or younger ones don't taste as good
(so I'm told, I can discern no taste whatsoever from
the ripe bamboo shoot). I did taste one unripe bamboo
shoot; someone gave me a big chunk of one. Bitter as hell.
Nasty. I swallowed the piece nearly whole and chucked
the rest of it discreetly on the ground.
Kara and I had only dug up a couple, it was time for a
drink! Oh, such hard work, they told us. You
must be thirsty. Here sit down for a bit and have a drink.
Then they started up the barbeque. Each of us got a bowl
of rice-stuff with ginger, squid and other assorted goodies
(which was actually good, I have to admit). They
barbequed strips of beef and wieners. We wrapped the beef
up in lettuce and went to town. It was deeelish.
was beautiful out there. It was really out in the sticks.
Nice fresh air, beautiful scenery, no traffic. Great place
to stretch out your mind. Just to stand and feel
the wind blow through the leaves. Felt like water running
through the smooth rocks in a brook or the first snows
of winter falling.
we got back to work after about an hour and a half. It
was real work. Many times roots would make things
more difficult. You have to cut 'em up or cut around them
and that's not easy at all. A few times I was doing really
well until a miss with the pick-ax-thing would chop a
really good, decent sized-shoot almost in half. DOH! It
was hard not to keep in mind that these things are actually
my teacher's family's livelihood. (but they are sooo
they always give tons away to friends every year. Later,
my JTE's husband told us that this was kind of like their
playground, where they allot a certain amount for their
friends. I think he was just trying to make us feel better
about butchering so many good bamboo shoots.
(my JTE's father) was god of the bamboo pick-ax-things.
The ground unclodded at his bidding and the shoots uprooted
themselves at his beckon. His eyes found shoots which
remained hidden from Kara and I in the undergrowth and
ne'er did he miss with his great ax.
inspiring sight he was, and intimidating. There I'd be,
chopping away at a root a half inch thick, and I'd see
him out of the corner of my eye cooly smoking on a cigarette
pausing only to swing once, then bend over and pick up
the largest bamboo shoot I'd ever seen. He helped me and
Kara quite a bit. Really nice guy.
the end of our tour of duty, they gave us some bamboo
to take home and cook up (now, four days later, it's
still sitting in my fridge, uncleaned; I know, I'm such
a bastard). Sounded like a complicated process, involving
boiling water, rice skins, and sauces... who knows?
was great to escape out to the countryside, if only for
a day. And harvesting bamboo shoots, hey... how often
do you get to do that?