ST: Chapter 1, 'Birthday', part 2 of 3
Updated: May 4, 2018
Below the clouds of cherry blossoms adorning ancient trees, three Japanese gentlemen engaged in a spirited discussion. The respectful distance that other blossom viewers maintained from them, and their expensive clothing and regal bearing identified them as members of the ruling class.
“And what of Basho?” one asked.
“His time has come and gone,” suggested one of his seated companions.
“It is true that his poetry has been quoted and recited countless times,” agreed the third man.
“But the fact that it has stood the test of time and is still with us is a validation of its worth.”
He paused, then thoughtfully issued a challenge.
“I am willing to wager that each of you has a personal favorite among his many haiku about flowers.”
The first man nodded appreciatively and stood. Swiveling around dramatically in the feather light mound of fallen cherry blossompetals at his feet, he addressed the others,
falling, falling, falling now
As if on cue the light sea breeze that had been tousling their robes all afternoon loosened a shower of pale pink petals down on the three men. Their delighted laughter broke the serenity of the afternoon.
The second man brushing the petals out of his hair, sat up.
“A splendid choice! Forgive me if this one is perhaps a bit too serious,”
how many, many things
they call to mind
The third man turned to the others with his eyes shining from the pleasure of the moment.
“I’m afraid I must leave your esteemed company soon as the afternoon shadows grow long. But please, let us not allow so much time to elapse before we enjoy each other’s company again. I leave you with this thought,”
a lovely spring day
while we viewed cherry blossoms
The other two clapped in sincere appreciation.
“Kichinosuke, you have bested us yet again. Your mastery of haiku is truly laudable,” one said.
“When will we learn not to compete against you,” the other said with admiration.
The three grasped each other’s forearms in shows of affection, then bowed to one another before striding off in separate directions.
Several blossom viewers bowed low in deference as Kichinosuke Takahashi left the cherry grove. Knowing that he would encounter many of the local citizenry if he walked through Onorimura, he chose instead a pathway that skirted the periphery of the village. Nonetheless, he still needed to stop to greet a contemporary and felt obligated to offer an appreciative nod when several peasant farmers fell to their knees and bowed deeply as he approached.
The heat of the afternoon ebbed as he wended his way up the private path to the promontory overlooking Onorimura and the sea. His face lit with pride as the Takahashi manor atop the bluff came into view. He never failed to marvel at the grandeur of the family home. At the crest of the path he paused to catch his breath and take in the vista around him. Aside from the islands that dotted the Seto-Naikai, Inland Sea to the south, the arable land in every direction belonged to the Takahashi family.
end of Chap. 1, segment 2 of 3