Blocked from the Beckoning Beauty of the Fresh Morning Snow
There is nothing more beautiful and awesome than a view out of my window in the frigid early morning of northern Japan, where I have been residing for the latter bulk of my life, some three decades now. A new, white, shimmering carpet of snow covers as far as the eye can see each winter morning from November until April or May, when the cherry blossoms come into full bloom and we can no longer deny the arrival of spring. The blossoms that quickly flutter to the ground remind us of the brevity of our youth and the finiteness of our lives.
The fresh morning blanket of snow on our large lawn covers up my footsteps in the snow from the day before and hides the dirt from the black smudges from cars and trucks passing by on the road alongside our house. The tree branches boldly hold more than their comfortable weight of snow, sometimes bending down to drop the snow. But, in the meantime, the tree looks beautiful, shimmering silvery white. I wonder if I should help relieve those trees of the weight, but perhaps they are enjoying the refreshing clean snow on their branches. Also, I do not want to traipse across my yard, destroying the white canvas by putting in new footsteps. I want to continue to enjoy the day’s new white carpet that has been so nicely spread, covering up all of the droppings, footsteps and blemishes from the day before, restoring it to near perfection each day.
If I were a small child, I would want to run and play in the new snow and build an igloo or a cave house. Nothing would hold me back, and I am still wearing that pure child’s heart.
I would also like to go skiing again. But skiing is something that I will never do in my life again, unfortunately. That is another closed door. I have had to put skiing in with my other sacrificed mastered activities, after having put in over 10,000 hours to master each of them, including trekking on mountain trails, swimming, exploring forests and mountains, dancing, driving, typing fast with two hands and so forth. I cannot even walk, so climbing, running, skating or swimming is also totally out of the question.
In as much as I wholeheartedly love the pristine beauty of the morning’s first snowfall amid the strong winds and minus degrees weather, I have come to despise the snow. At the same time that I love it, I loathe it now. Since having survived a stroke over five years ago, now I can no longer get around on foot. I use a wheelchair that needs to be pushed by caregivers and loaded into my husband’s car whenever we go out together. Usually I just stay home alone, despising the cold winter with one blanket across my knees, another draped over my shoulders, a jacket on underneath zipped to the chin. Down jackets at my back, or later when my helper comes at lunchtime, I will request a hot water bottle to be placed at the back of my wheelchair to keep me warm during the day. Even when the weather is clear and nice, I cannot even so much as venture outside. I am a prisoner in my house, in a single back room on the coldest north side of the house all winter, trying to type out with one finger of my one good hand stories that might appeal to others, usually unsuccessfully.
Outside of my window in the thralls of a cold winter’s morning, I can see icicles hanging dangerously from my windows and rooftops which need to be dropped before they fall unexpectedly on schoolchildren or other people passing by during the day around this dark, cold place.
I wish they would make going out by wheelchair easier in all seasons, since they will not renew my driver’s license anymore. I just want to go to the corner store to buy a few things for lunch today.
The ominous ice and snow will just cause me to slip down hard, so I do not even try, because as heavy as I am now, a fall would be disastrous. The ice and snow are not the only problems.
The cold and freezing temperatures cause my spastic body to contract painfully all of the more. My bad hand is so contracted that my short fingernails dig deeply into the skin of the palm of my hand, and the cold cruelly goes straight to the weakest places on my body to cause further pain.
Otherwise, I just spend a lot of time hanging out on various support websites. I waste day after day making zero progress in any way, consuming more medicines and food, but not expelling enough of it to count. Instead I am just getting heavier and heavier, to my disadvantage when trying to practice walking. Even though spring should be here by the end of April, even after the cherry blossoms have come into full bloom, it is still cold here.
The snow is gone, except from the towering mountain that I can clearly see from out the backside of my house. The mountain is another frozen world hostile to us humans, as I came to understand when I took up mountain climbing in my early thirties as a means to overcome grief following the demise of a bad relationship.
Laurel Kamada is a retired lecturer-professor. She taught at Tohoku University in Japan. She has published on numerous topics, including bilingualism; multiculturalism in Japan; hybrid, gendered identities in Japan; and theoretical, methodological discourse analytic approaches. She serves on the editorial board of Japan Journal of Multilingualism and Multiculturalism, and she served on the advisory council of the International Gender and Language Association (2008-2010). Her most recent award-winning book is “Hybrid Identities and Adolescent Girls: Being ‘Half’ in Japan” (Multilingual Matters/Channel View Publications, 2010). She received a PhD in Applied Linguistics (Lancaster U., England). She resides in Japan with her husband, and works as a freelance writer.