Like a children’s coloring book, the misshapen colorful tents of all sizes dot the landscape along the Tamagawa River. Contrast that with a blue sky and Japanese style river runs through it with snow capped Fuji in the background, it makes for a beautiful scene.
The smell of an open fire permeating the air brings me back to the days of camping in the Canadian Rockies. With a cold bite in the air, the fire brings warmth and sustenance as we cook our freeze-dried meals over the open flame. As the water comes to a boil, we pour the instant Italian noodles and seasonings into the pot. Within minutes we gorge ourselves for 30 seconds wolfing down the noodles.
There’s something about being in the mountains and cold air that makes even a freeze-dried meal taste gourmet. Sadly, thirty seconds passes quickly and I’m still hungry. It’s gorp for desert. Not to be confused with goop the silly, overpriced online store catering to women with unlimited cash and nobody in-between. Gorp is a mixture of salted nuts, raisins and M&Ms. The mixture of salt and sugar is savory to say the least and adds a nice end to the meal. Still famished I take a handful and stuff it all in mouth. No savoring, just filling the gullet on the way to my stomach.
As digestion begins, I get sleepy. Still a little before 8 it doesn’t matter and I work my way to the tent and unzip my ice cold sleeping bag and slip in after removing my shoes. While it is still the end of August, in these parts the temps at night drop to near freezing. I love that my body from an early age naturally cranks out heat to the point of nearly sweating. I can sleep in any condition knowing that my body will provide. Others complain. I do not.
Out like a light within a matter of minutes I awaken at the crack of dawn. The price I pay for going to bed so early. I don’t mind, in fact I prefer it. The silence of early morning is deafening. I unzip my bag, step out of the tent. Noticing the dew dripping from the tent I know right away we hit freezing as I see my breath. I try blowing rings like those smokers like to do. Showoff I mumble under my breath anytime they do that. What’s the point? I am not impressed. I don’t smoke. And chances are you will die before me. I don’t tell them that, but always these thoughts come to mind when I see the rings. Only able to blow a half a ring, I know that my rings are healthy if even a halfhearted shape comes out.
Walking over to the smoldering fire, I take a long stick and poke at it hoping to stoke it back to life. It’s too far gone and search for more wood to fire it up. Nothing around that is dry so I return and bend down over a lonely red-hot ember and hold my hands over it to warm up. Surprisingly it does the trick and I feel warmth at the tips of my fingers where there was no feeling a moment ago.
I sit and let the silence envelop me as my mind wanders. No need to wrangle anything in. Just be with what is now. This may not seem like it to you, but this is the life.
The Tamagawa is in the middle of Tokyo nowhere near Canada. But if I can get an experience remotely close to my time in the Rockies, I will be satisfied. Maybe someday. Maybe elsewhere.