Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Song of the Semi

After a three day break, I finally went for a run again this morning. It was supposed to be our first official cross-country practice of the season--the kids had been emailed and alerted, and a few had even indicated that they would be at school at 6 am, and ready to run.

Remember the grace-like rain that I mentioned in yesterday's post? Well, turns out we had a lot of grace this morning; really--it came down in droves. So, I wasn't all that surprised when I arrived at school to find the head coach (also named Nate) waiting alone. We stuck around for a few minutes on the off-chance that maybe the kids weren't skipping practice, they were just running late, but no such luck. I decided that since I was at school anyway, I'd go for a run by myself.

I ran 5k and I won't say how long it took me because it's quite unflattering, but not so nearly as unflattering as the sight of a rain-soaked gaijin running blindly through the streets of higashi-kurume, I suppose.

An hour later, the rain had stopped completely and now I sit outside on the picnic benches in the school plaza having just finished my lunch as I type this post. The bench is a bit wet, yes... but that doesn't much matter to me. I look for any and all opportunities to sit outside at this time of day--the kids and my colleagues know this about me, and I've developed a reputation for maybe being slightly insane as I'll take a 50˚ clear day in February as an invitation to enjoy the great outdoors. This is the coolest that Tokyo has felt since I got back (when it's not raining, anyway).

All is still. Well, except for one thing: the constant grating song of the semi (the Japanese cicada). To give you a perspective on how this chorus sounds, imagine a 50-person band, all of them with rain-sticks. The members of the band are turning the rain-sticks over in such a way that the rattling sound never stops, not even for a millisecond. And, on top of all of that, the sound technician was hard of hearing, so under the assumption that the audience wouldn't be able to hear 50 rattling rain-sticks, they have mic'd every last player and cranked the amp up to full volume... THAT is the song of the semi.

Don't mistake me, though... it can be hard on the ears at first, but there's something soothing about their brash song. Some ocean-side-like quality in their incessant, inexorable chirping. Though this isn't my favorite season to sit outside under the trees in the plaza (Sakura wins that season hands-down), there was a definite feeling of renewal and refreshment in sitting outside on a cloudy summer day, eagerly anticipating the start of a new school-year and listening to the song of the semi.

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