Monday, November 26, 2007

New Hobbies

I could say that my month with Mr. Ito is speeding by, but by doing so I would be perpetrating a lie so great it would make me cross-eyed to read it.

I knew in advance of my arrival that I would be “only cutting wood” for the duration of my stay, and I welcomed the idea of some good solid physical work and really getting my hands dirty. As it turns out Mr. Ito adheres to an emerging rule of WWOOF hosts, that they all have one machine to facilitate their work. At Numajiri Kogen Lodge it was a mechanical dish washer, at Pension Mutti it was an industrial snow blower, and at Mr. Ito’s it is a wood splitter. This means that instead of taking to the field every morning with manly axe and wedge I stand in one place and slowly feed logs into a machine for six hours.

At first I thought that cutting firewood was difficult work, but I have come to realize it is actually just tedious and very boring work, work which is both perpetual and unrelenting. As such, I have cultivated several hobbies which I can engage in under Mr. Ito’s stentorian eye without rebuke:

Thinking. Thinking long, rambling discursive thoughts which never manage to reach any conclusion. This has been a life long passion and I have advanced it into new grounds in these dull days. A choice subject is revisiting conversations I have had with my friends and how they would have gone if one of us had said something different. This is every bit as fruitful as it sounds.

Watching my hair grow. This is definitely a winner. There is nothing Mr. Ito can do about my hair growing and I do so with impunity, reveling in the seconds between one log and the next while my beard grows with fierce, bristling intensity. I haven’t set blade to my face in a week, and I’m electrified by the follicle developments each morning when I reach the bathroom mirror. The chief front of interest is whether my neck hair will grow into my chest hair, thus rendering me in appearance as to some species of bald-headed bear. What’s more, by the end of week two of my untamed hair growth I will have blown past all previous personal records of neck and facial hair growth. God only knows what may come.

Other hobbies:
Taking pictures of wood.

Listening very closely to song lyrics / thinking about what songs to listen to tomorrow.

Trying not to look at the clock every few minutes.

Unfortunately I can’t add writing to this list as that it, more than anything else, seems to invoke his ill tempers. I have been forbidden from taking breaks during work to write, and if I write in Mr. Ito’s presence after work has finished he immediately becomes agitated that I’m not searching for some chore to help him with around the house and will testily reprimand me about it later on. (“You are always scribbling in that little notebook of yours! What are you writing in there?”)

Nevertheless I find my time to write, and write I shall.