The abnormal summer
that we had inevitably is leaving its footprints behind, but nevertheless
the fall colors are beginning to appear. I think it was at the beginning
of September when I looked out of our office window and saw the sky covered
with scaly cirrocumulus clouds---a harbinger of autumn. The small size
of the clouds was impressive. Despite the heat, under the influence of
the air stream, the high clouds near the stratosphere were changing their
appearance. Even though we have had subtropical conditions, the cycle
of nature is repeating itself and weaving its way through the four seasons.
I love the summer clouds. When I point my digital camera at the landscape,
I suddenly find myself focusing my composition on the blue sky and white
clouds. The cumulonimbus thunderclouds, which seem to reach as far as
the stratosphere, are especially exciting. They give me the illusion that
I am being watched by a giant in the sky. Very likely the scene in Hayao
Miyazaki’s Mononoke hime (Princess Mononoke) in which the god that
controls nature, incarnated as a deer, looks down on nature from the heavens
above comes from an image of a cumulonimbus cloud.
Summer clouds consist mainly of cumuli, puffy clouds with a flat base
and pointed top that pile up horizontally and vertically. They are formed
by the rising air current when moisture from the land and sea evaporates
and moisture from mountains and trees warms and turns into vapor. Unlike
the high clouds of autumn and winter, they do not stay at one point but
move with time. The combination of the blue sky behind them, the green
mountains and countryside, and the sparkling rays of the sun surely bring
back memories of childhood.
At the end of August I went from Norikura-dake to Kamikochi. It was fine
weather on that day, and the view from the window of the train from Shinjuku
to Matsumoto was indeed a feast of cumulonimbus clouds that reached a
climax at Norikura-dake. The huge thundercloud that I saw as the Chuo
line train passed Yatsuga-take was overwhelming, but the clouds hanging
over the 3,000-meter peaks made a powerful impression on me too. The blue
sky, the sun’s rays, the color of the clouds, the color of the mountains
. . . The majestic appearance of the Japan Alps was inspiring and mysterious
in a different way from my hometown in Kyushu.
The Tatamidaira car park is situated 2,702 meters above sea level and
is the highest in Japan. Visitors can get up to that point quite quickly
by bus or taxi. I went by taxi and then took a stroll on a nearby hill
to admire the dicentra and other wild flowers. But for some reason, I
did not feel well.
After returning home, next morning my blood pressure was in the upper
150s. Usually it is in the 120s or 130s, so I was shocked. Suspecting
the reason, I did a Google search for “altitude sickness and blood
pressure” and realized that I was indeed suffering from altitude
sickness. The doctor cautioned me, telling me the cause was my sudden
ascent by car to a height of over 2,000 meters, but he added that I would
recover with time and needed no treatment. I was relieved when I finally
did get over it. My trip had given me an opportunity to see the summer
clouds---and something else to remember as well.
As the colors of autumn begin to appear, the summer clouds and thunderclouds
that I photographed are transforming into cumuli and gradually shrinking.
Hot summer memories, blue skies, white clouds, green mountains . . . Autumn
is approaching. For someone like me who loves summer, “My dreams
returned into the blue, white, and green of summer.”