To: newsletter
From: "Peter M. Rivard"
Subject: Fukui in winter

Hey, friends,

      It's beautiful here--I keep realizing, again and again, how much I'd missed being around a beautiful landscape. Today, I overslept again my plan to leave at seven to go skiing in Gifu, the next prefecture over. In midafternoon, I left to check out the planned route, and found that it was as well that I hadn't tried in the predawn darkness. Most of is wasn't plowed, and after an hour I found where any effort at snow removal had ended at a sudden two and a half foot wall of snow. I backtracked to another road through, and found the same thing. When I make a real attempt to get though, I'll have to travel up and through the capital city of my prefecture, and I'll just have to hope that the only road heading east from there has been cleared. I did at one point decide to see how well my tiny light little carlet (with it's 660 cc engine and Matchbox Car® wheels) could handle a skid, and ended up leaving a Suzuki noseprint in a snowbank an hour our of Takefu. It had been a deliberate maneuver, and so slow and not scary and with no risk to life and body-work expense; the local old ladies clearing snow in front of their houses were a bit perplexed by my huge grin and friendly wave as I slowly worked past them immediately afterward. It seemed better to find out exactly how the car handled there than when I was next to a big drop-off into a river or a solid cliff (I'd eased the right wheels into the thicker slush in the center of the lane to see if I could recover from the differential drag). Yes, if you make a car light enough, it does handle horribly. I remember the ancient Mercedes Dad bought on a lark just before he moved to Florida--it weighed about double what a normal car weighed, and it cornered, even on ice and snow, like it was on rails. My little thing, propelled by a chainsaw engine perhaps souped up with a few gerbils, corners even on dry pavement like it's centerice at the old Boston Garden. For the rest of my life, I will overspend on cars, I will buy rugged trucks with four wheel drive or 4wd sports sedans that are magnetically pinned to the road. For the next two or three years I will simply drive slowly and rediscover the joys of prayer. Does Buddhism have a patron saint of shitty cars and bad roads?

      Anyway, it is beautiful--there's a lot more snow in the mountains just 20 minutes east of here. Especially as twilight bore down and depth perception faded, the patterns of white snow patches on innumerable pines on each hillside became more abstract, reducing to just white on black--and when the random white on black of a tree in the foreground moved against the white on black of a thousand trees on an opposing hillside, the effect almost hypnotized. You cannot see any new place here without being struck almost to stillness by beauty of the perspective. You in New England, Iberia, or the Blue Ridge Mountains take this for granted, but it is good to be out of Chicago.

O genki de



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