Are you reflecting back on the year? There’s certainly strong societal momentum to do so.
[Aside: We had to do an extra roasting of dark peaberry and have a few pounds available. If you’re interested, please contact me. It’s $55/pound or $30/half pound.]
I took photos of some trees today. I was expecting Kona snow almost a week ago. We had a big rain on Dec. 11, almost two inches, and I thought we’d have beautiful snow. The buds are there, but they’re slow to open, and there aren’t as many buds as I hoped for. Last season’s two producing blocks look tired. A lot of leaves are missing from the center branches. I’m glad they’ll be stumped soon and get a break. I thank them for producing so well this year.
We’re starting to see humpback whales from various spots. I really enjoy seeing them from the lānai. Most recently I saw about eight boats clustered in a certain area. I took out the binoculars and it didn’t take long to see the whales diving, breaching, fin slapping, etc. I saw at least seven in a pod on the move, heading south. I feel joy seeing them. And gratitude. Some years we see more than others. I’ll be interested in the whale count for 2024. This is the info from 2023; they count January, February, and March.
On a personal note, here’s a crazy story. I had spent an afternoon with a recently made friend who lives here. During our time together I learned she used to play taiko … serious taiko. And a couple were visiting her from the mainland whom she knew from their taiko days. They used to play with Seattle Kokon Taiko in the early 90’s, and played for different lengths of time. By the time my friend left, they used to perform a gig almost every weekend March through November, and a few more sprinkled from December through February.
The month prior I had won an hour taiko lesson for up to eight people in an online auction fundraiser for the performing youth taiko group at Daifukuji. I had been thinking we don’t need such an experienced teacher for newbies. I didn’t really have a plan for how/when I was going to redeem my lesson. Then I thought the Seattle group would benefit the most, especially since all three hadn’t played in double-digit years, and it would let them do what initially drew them together. We had a couple visiting us from California at the time. I had a fuzzy notion of it’d be great to somehow accommodate all seven of us, but we were on opposite ends of the experience spectrum.
Well, I thought I’d at least ask what possibilities might be. Sensei Akemi Iwamoto was incredibly accommodating. So many stars aligned — many people’s schedules, the Daifukuji dojo, and the can-do-whatever-you-want attitude. By some miracle, the NEXT EVENING we had a class with us seven students and Sensei Akemi and several recruited youth to help teach.
We seven students didn’t know each other, just my friend and I knew each other, so we met up for an hour of socializing before our class. I thought they were from Seattle, but they actually grew up and lived in Sacramento. I took a wild chance and asked them if they knew the only two people I know who grew up in Sacramento. No… But wait… More questions. Turns out one was a high school classmate of my good friend’s sister! Such a small world!! And my good friend had just visited a little over a month prior.
At class, after circling together, introductions, and warm-up exercises, we all learned a number together. Sensei was warmly encouraging. We beginners taxed our brains much more than the others. The former pros got to beat drums again and were role models. The kids each took turns teaching and demonstrating, basically practicing their leadership skills. It was SO MUCH FUN!! Total flow. Totally immersed in what we were doing and drumming (mostly) altogether.
The special treat was when the three pros performed one of their standard numbers from their past. And a Daifukuji Taiko alum, who goes to the University of Washington, home for the holidays, played the background beat for them on the shimedaiko. They hadn’t played individually or altogether in almost 30 years. You could see the old moves come back and where they’d sometimes fumble a bit. But they were pros, so they always gracefully carried on. It was an awesome moment. It felt so very special because so many forces and people came together for that special time.
For those of you that are local and might see this post in time … there’s a mini concert by Daifukuji Taiko tomorrow, December 30 at noon at Daifukuji.