Saturday, April 3, 2010

how to walk down a mountain

Easter morning. The day before Tomb Sweeping day.
Tomorrow is Tomb Sweeping day. It is a national holiday. It is a Monday. I don't have to work tomorrow. That feels so good. Two days of sleep.
It is raining now. It wasn't this morning. This morning was stone grey, and I took a walk.
There is a path up a small mountain, the entrance to the path is only a few blocks from my door. The "mountain" is maybe only 1500 feet. I don't really know. It doesn't seem too high. I've done it before, and on a clear day you can see Taipei, 15 miles away. Today I couldn't see past the green of the trees on either side of the road. The fog was rolling in quickly, even mingling with my own breath, though it wasn't cold , when I exhaled, I could see my breath. The climb was steep but entirely paved, like a street, what my grandpa used to call "Mac Adams", what we call "street".
I was at the top in less than 40 minutes. There if found a small park that housed a giant bell. You cannot ring the bell. It is not suspended. It is resting on a platform.
I imagined if a giant came along and picked up the bell, he could fit fifteen people in it and shake us up like dice, then roll us down the mountain.
There were other people on the mountain, some families, some individuals, taking their Sunday constitutionals. I noted with some curiosity on my way up that quite a few people were coming down the mountain backwards.

Going up a mountain is always the easy part for me. Coming down is the hard part. If I'm not petrified with fear (this mountain was nothing to fear) then I'm pained by my left knee (it's shot, 29 years old and I'm falling apart). Going down hurts the knee. At some points of descent the road grade was about 65 degrees! Pretty steep. I decided to try my hand at the backwards thing.

If you ever wanted to make an annoying walk down a mountain an epiphany, just turn around.
First, something to do with body mechanics, the pain in my knee, gone.
Then is the perspective. My mind was confused, as my eyes took in the flowers and palm trees and spider webs laying themselves in front of me, in reverse, my brain took a while to adjust. There was a slight lag time between experience and understanding, reception. My body, my feet my legs my swinging arms, were jubilant and giddy with gravity's gentle tug against unfamiliar muscles. It was beautiful.
The mountain got higher as I went lower.
Somewhere in the middle of the mountain I heard a rooster crow, then his cocky friend answer. I listened to their conversation until I got a bit lower.
Then on the fingers of the fog were bleats of a trumpet. I thought it was an auditory acid jazz hallucination.
It got stronger. It was either an expert avant garde artist playing or a beginner learning, but unmistakably, someone somewhere on the mountain had lips against a trumpet and was playing something that was beautiful, and raw.
There was a primordial screech of a bird. I looked up. It was a navy blue bird. It had a long tail, that was cut with white stripes. It was bigger than the red winged black birds that used to taunt me along the marshes of Stone Harbor Boulevard but I began to notice that these birds lined the road on either side of the road down the mountain. Had they been multicolored and born of fire, I would have sworn they were Phoenixes.