Another atmospheric river is hitting us here in the Seattle area today through Monday. And the most recent forecast that I paid attention to says more rain is on the way. I tend to fade out these days when I hear a weather forecast – rain, flooding, rain, “look at those rain totals!!”, and more rain. Lots and lots of rain. When I was out in the garden yesterday I was pleased to see my moss gardens thriving. These small areas I’ve created over the years were inspired by a trip to Japan in 2016 – my spouse, Bill, and I toured the country for 16 days while our son was an exchange student at Waseda University. We visited Tokyo, Kyoto, Kanazawa, and surrounding areas of those cities. Of all that we saw and experienced – shrines, temples, museums, gardens, ancient samurai neighborhoods, business areas, country-side vistas from the train – the gardens impressed me most of all. And of the gardens we visited (intentionally or stumbling into as a result of getting lost), the moss gardens made the greatest impression on me. When we returned home I immediately got to work creating small moss beds in my garden. And as I mentioned, these days they are thriving.
And while I was walking through the garden, I remembered our flight home from Japan and my delightful seatmate (not my spouse – he slept most of the way – although he’s delightful when awake). Bill and I sat in the middle section of the plane, three seats together, with Bill on the aisle, me in the middle, and a young Chinese exchange student on my other side. As we settled in for the flight, to my surprise, this young student asked me how I liked Japan, where I was from, and our conversation took off in a very relaxed and natural way. We talked – he, mostly – for the majority of the flight. He had been at a university studying some type of engineering that I don’t remember, was fluent in three languages (English, Japanese, and Cantonese), and was coming home for a short break. He asked me my impression of the Japanese people (a question I wondered about initially) and then asked me if I had felt any discrimination while there. I explained that my experiences had been remarkably pleasant, that I was thoroughly impressed with the cleanliness and politeness of the country, and that the only odd experience I had was to see a protester in Shinjuku yelling at passers-by. My seatmate explained that the protester was probably yelling at the tourists to go home. He then explained that he had experienced considerable “crap” because of his race but had expected it. We talked until dinner was served, talked another hour or two during and after dinner, and then he fell asleep. I read. It was a thoroughly delightful flight home.
I miss travel. Maybe because I have been so fortunate – I have never had a memorably unpleasant experience on any flight. I’ve been to San Diego three times alone and each time I’ve had thoughtfully talkative, interesting seatmates, our flight home from England in 2019 was a fun flight because of a very funny seatmate, and all the other flights I’ve taken over many years have been enjoyable. I’ve never been on a flight where an altercation occurred, so hearing about recent fights or harassments occurring on flights is sad and upsetting. And embarrassing for this country. From what I have read, the majority of these altercations have been because of anger, often fueled by alcohol – someone feeling “put upon” because of mask requirements. This inherently self-centered response is ridiculous. I have a deep fear and revulsion of this type of anger and my response is to walk away from it. As a result, these days I’m reluctant to take a trip that involves air travel. Being trapped with someone indulging in such angry outbursts will keep me on the ground for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, Bill and I are planning our next big vacation for whenever air travel becomes safer, and I will indulge in very enjoyable memories of travels past.
I wish you safe travels, fun seatmates, a good book, and clear skies.