Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A few days ago, a leaf opened behind my head.

They do this all the times, i realize, leaves. Opening and aging and all the rest of it. Frequently, I imagine, just behind my head. Still, I was just sitting on the couch reading a magazine when something crackled and I turned in time to catch it stretching and settling into place. By morning it looked like all the rest of the leaves.

That plant is also slowly growing flowers, and now I am slightly suspicious that it is just waiting until our backs are turned to unfurl those as well. Everything is growing and blooming right now, and it must be the smallest symphony when we're not there--the leaves snapping and sighing, everything taking tiny first breaths and then larger second ones. Playing for the sunshine, and the cat, and each other.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

For a while in the 1700's, I hear, some Japanese monks took to mummifying themselves. The reasons why are sort of hazy, although honestly I'm not completely sure that you could present me with an argument for mummifying yourself alive that would make me think, well, sure, that makes sense. One version of the story seems to involve some lost secret tantric practices. The other version starts with a monk who decided to bury himself alive to stop a terrible famine, as one does, who turned up mummified when they dug him out three years later. Which seems like as good a reason as any to start a trend.

But you know, it's not easy to mummify yourself. For the first 1,000 days all you can eat is seeds and nuts while exercising to divest yourself of all of your body fat. The next 1,000 days takes you to roots and bark and a drink made of lacquer, so that your insides will be nice and shiny and poisonous to anything that might want to eat your fat-free remains. Finally you lock yourself into a tomb with an air tube and a bell and ring the bell occasionally for as long as you're alive. When your bell stops ringing your fellow monks seal up your tomb and wait another 1,000 days before cracking it back open to see if you've mummified. If yes, up on a platform for admiration you would go.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, self-mummification rarely worked as planned, and of the hundreds of monks that tried it only a couple of dozen mummies have been discovered. This must be part of the challenge--how do you know if you can mummify yourself until you try it? Going through the whole ordeal to end up just plain old decomposed, although also still just as dead.

We know at least the basic details of the mummification ritual, but I haven't yet been able to find an account of what it was like to crack the tomb back open. Would it be filled with a monster or a mummy or a treasure? Or more likely, a combination of all three.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A couple of months ago I read an article about some people who up and stole a whole bridge in the middle of the night. It seems like it would be hard to be sneaky, creeping up to a bridge with your wrench and a big truck and maybe one of those cartoon black holes in a suitcase, but I guess that's just what happened. And when the townspeople woke up in the morning it turned out that they just had to go ahead and wade to work.

Anyway, it turns out that stealing bridges is not an uncommon occurrence. I suppose if you're going to pull off a caper it might as well involve stealing a bridge with some fake papers and a winning smile. Bridges don't just walk away, so it's hard to say that we would even notice if one suddenly did, if we would just roll up our pants and wade to work as though it was what we had been doing every day. If our bridges suddenly disappeared it's pretty even odds that we would just retroactively decide that bridges had never existed anyway. What bridge? No one here but us and the leeches.

In the meantime the bridge thieves are probably sitting somewhere close, on a pile of ill-gotten gains and suitcases full of black holes, wondering how to separate us from our socks.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Really it was only a matter of time until someone told me about the circumhorizontal arc. I love an optical phenomenon, and I double love one called a fire rainbow even though it has nothing to do with either rainbows or fire. All you need to make one is a sun, flat ice crystals in some high cirrus clouds, and serendipity. Sometimes everything comes together just right and make rainbow flames in the skies.

This seems like the sort of natural phenomenon that would attach itself to myths and omens, but I haven't found any. Maybe it's just that some things are too rare and perfect to be mythologized, too beautiful to be anything but a good omen. It could be that a combination of good luck and lifted eyes is its own reward. I think we should be on the lookout in any case, so that we'll be ready if whatever appears in our skies next is the key to happiness or a new planet or a sack full of gold. It would be a shame to miss something nice, just for lack of looking.