It never rained when I visited Senso-ji and Todai-ji Temples. I attributed this to good fortune, the Buddha clearing the skies for my visit. The young monk said the Buddha cares nothing for weather, so I should thank the Japan Meteorological Agency although they never seem to give him the weather he truly wants.
We both know that having a pet at our age is wise for they provide a companionship that can be difficult to find. I’ve had both dogs and cats, but the decision this time was reasonably simple, for dogs have an insatiable need to walk their people, weather is no impediment and my arthritis is no longer all that forgiving of damp and cold.
So we settled on a cat, and we have been pleased with our decision – she is joyous, playful and reads our emotional needs, but most importantly, other than not needing to walk us, she has been remarkably adept at training us to live in her new home.
He is never certain what to do on days like this one, when the winter takes a particularly nasty turn, the temperature hovers at utter emptiness, and the wind elects to try to enfold everything it can reach in a coat of frost, that bleaches life away. He walks each day, through the nearby park if the weather is the least bit cooperative, through the neighborhood when not, where at least he can take a small shelter from the wind in the shadow of houses closed up tightly, life walled away within, smarter, he imagines than he is, his fingers ill-gloved, slowly losing all feeling, but this is his practice, something he does because it requires doing, heeding an edict from an unspoken voice. And later emerging from a hot shower, feeling limbs restored, he glances at the weather in hopes the next day will be kinder, and slow in coming.
Tomorrow, he is certain, it will be sunny and surprisingly warm or it will rain, with a cool breeze or it will be temperate but rather cloudy. It may be none of these or all, by turns. He would ask the weatherman but he knows none and this would be such a personal question you need an intimacy that he has rarely felt. The weather doesn’t really matter to him anyway, for tomorrow he is certain, his room will be unchanged, only the nurses will be different.
Outside, even the crows are quiet this morning, seeking a warmth that eludes us all. We all know winter has finally arrived as we shiver and try so very hard to remember the warmth of summer, the bloom of the lilacs and the magnolia petals falling gently to mark our path.