Thursday, May 31, 2012


The river got a haircut today.  The men in the blue trucks, with their matching overalls trimmed the banks of its winter coat. A family of Capybara rustle in the stubble.  (Dr. Dave assures me that they're Nutria, which sounds to me more like an artificial sweetener.) Their incongruous presence draws a handful of onlookers, including one old timer who shakes his head, as if disgusted by what he's seen his country become.  May's usual lack of rain means that the river is low.  Certain features are unfamiliar, like catching a woman without her make-up.  At the base of the waterfalls, the bed is decorated with Maori tattoos.  Further downriver, a group of school girls chase each other on a gravel island that usually isn't there.

Other sights, other figures are in their usual places.  There's the Man Facing Northeast, who stands perfectly still, looking out at Mt. Hiei.  Occasionally, he'll do some funky karate tai chi mojo with his hands.  Further up is that long-haired, bare-chested guy who works magic with a clear glossy orb, spinning it over his hands and arms and chest, as if it is operating by physics all its own.  And the talented middle-aged soprano sax player, blowing through his usual repertoire under Kuramaguchi Bridge.

And all the other supporting cast:  the college musicians, and the student athletes.  The moms in hats and toddlers in strollers.  The riverside book club.  The overdressed joggers.  Riders of expensive bicycles wearing pointy eyewear.  Middle aged men in tank tops, feeding off the sun.   Pensioners doing hurky jerky marionette exercises that look like murder on the joints.

And me.  Pushing the stroller beside the water, auditioning my daughter for the cast.

On the turntable:  The Stranglers, "Peaches"

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