Recovering from Convalescence

With my eye on the mend, my medication has dropped significantly and I am now returning to a normal level of physical activity. Not feeling exhausted every moment of the day has allowed me to once again enjoy basic activities like walking and breathing.

Really, I had been doing that for a while. Last Monday, however, it was time to get my butt moving a little. Blue skies beckoned and I decided to ride northward into the hills. With no idea where I was going or how long it would take me to get there, I was excited just to explore someplace new.

I criss-crossed roads on the Western side of Route 4 and eventually found myself scaling a hill that my now enfeebled legs and heart didn’t appreciate. But, only twice was I forced to dismount: once when the uphill rise was just too long to bear and again when the slope was too steep for me even on the best of days.

When I finally crested the hill, expansive farms and rice paddies greeted me on the other side. The wind whipped cotton clouds past the pastel blue sky and gave me more momentum than I needed to descend the rural road. My brakes threatened to start smoking, but never failed me.

I stopped for a few photos of the landscape and noticed a secluded hillside cemetery in the distance. This peaceful place was my next stop. There, I spent most of my time photographing the small Buddha statues placidly keeping watch over the graves.

Continuing on my uncharted path, I quickly departed my hard-fought high ground and again was skirting the base of the hill. The road home followed Route 4 up the hill once more, so my daily exercise only ended when I sped down the other side into Ichinoseki.

But Monday was only a warm-up for yesterday. The Japanese school year ends in March and re-starts in April. During that time, I am left to my own devices in the Board of Education offices. This has, in fact, been a boon – I’ve been able to work relentlessly on my new website. But, in an effort to get me out of the office and interacting with students during this month-long break from teaching, the office has suggested I go play basketball with the kids at Hagishou.

Considering how often I play with them when I teach at the school, it only makes sense that I should want to go and shoot some more hoops with them. They’re great kids and good little ball players. (I’m loathe to admit it, but there are actually a couple 15-year-olds there who are already better than me. One boy kept hitting threes and I pretty much had to give up on defending him – he just wouldn’t stop hitting them!) The only problem was that, in my weakened state, I like an octogenarian. I was panting like a husky in desert heat after only a few minutes of one on one.

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