Sunday, August 25, 2013

Aka Tombo

I think fall is coming.  Today, there is the first hint that summer is giving up; she is getting tired of working so hard to make us sweat.  Our porch door has been open to the outside all day, and I beg for more fall to come inside my house.   I can't get enough.  A fan sits next to the door, blowing in the outside air because now it is tolerable and it feels good on my skin.

But there is something sad about letting summer go.  I say that as if I have a choice about when a season comes or goes.  Perhaps it is because there is a youthful state of mind that accompanies the summer season that I conjure up in late May and start to let go about this time each year.  It is as if fall is walking up my brick walk, getting ready to knock on my door to tell me,

"It's time."

It is time to let summer go - walking bare-footed in the yard and feeling the wet grass come up between my toes, lying in the hammock on the porch, and riding my boogie board as if I were twelve years old.  Tourists look at me, the gray-haired woman who knows how to catch the waves, plucking them out of the horizon, cruising along the crest and into the curve of the wave, but not so far that it eats her alive.  I ride all the way into shore right up to their ankles as the they look down at me holding their children's hands to keep them from going too far in the water.  I try not to meet their eyes as I get up and bound into the water to get some more.  I don't play like that the rest of the year. So as much as I enjoy the first round of cool weather, it comes with a sense of melancholy.   Summer vacations end.  Seasons end.  Another year - gone.

I will sing a song today about the Aka Tombo, the Red Dragonfly, so special in Japan it has its own song. Its tail was so red it glowed against the green mountainsides of Nojiri where we spent our summer vacations when I was a child.  One of my favorite songs, Aka Tombo, is a song of nostalgia, a longing for the way things were - the way I look back both on the summer that is going, and will be gone very soon, and memories of much more distant pasts that disappeared decades ago.

Yuuyake koyake no aka tombo
oware te mita no wa itsu no hi ka?

Red dragonfly of the sunset,
When did I last see it, as I was carried along on a back?

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