A Better Place

On an early autumn day in Shiwa, you can see cosmos flowers growing in gardens and fields, wild in the forgotten lots of abandoned houses, and stubbornly in cracks in the sidewalk. They are almost everywhere, and they bloom in purple, pink, yellow, and orange.

A man from Shiwa bred an orange variety called “Sunset” and won the prestigious All American Selection award for his efforts in 1966. Now they grow in abundance, low like ground fog on which orange flowers float.

Other varieties can grow taller than people and would look like the worst kind of weeds with spidery leaves and reddish stalks but for their flowers. The flowers seem as thin and weak as paper, like they wouldn’t survive the wind of a typhoon or even the rain. Yet they grow in difficult places, in cracks, between rocks, and along chain link fences.

This is what I love about them. They don’t choose where they grow, but they survive, and in so doing they make it, no matter where it is, a better place.







Autumn Chills

Today the autumn chills were strong even in the afternoon. The sun shone, and warmed things up enough, but undoubtedly the season’s equator has been crossed. Warm weather will soon be gone.

The weather also meant that summer’s pale, overcast sky changed to deep blue. It stretched over terraced rice fields in every direction. Giant clouds looked small. The immense forests were reduced to dark shades, the inverse of the colors all around.

All over town rice was being harvested, the grains hung to dry, and straw left standing in bunches in the fields. They represent humanity’s efforts to survive winter and another year while the next crop grows. Yet beneath the blue of a magical jewel sky, such concerns would seem trifle if not for the chill reminding us how real they will soon become.