There’s a first time for many things

My shadow on rice field stubble as the sun sets between two houses

My shadow on rice field stubble as the sun sets between two houses

This year certainly has been full of first timers. I bought a house, had a son, and hiked in the southern region of the South Alps. Among many other firsts, I took a day off last weekend for a three-day break and didn’t go to the mountains. Yes, even though we had three days of good weather I chose to stay home. There was lots to do at home too – photo organizing, typing, preparing submissions and even house work and cleaning, but I did very little of that. I decided to spend the three days with my wife and son, playing with the little guy and giving mom some time to occupy herself with her things. I also know she doesn’t eat right during the week so I made sure she had a complete breakfast and healthful dinner.

Of course the outdoors did call to me. On Sunday I had to get outside for just ten minutes at sunset to glance at the Chichibu Mountains, Haruna and Akagi in Gunma, and the distant but clearly visible silhouette of Fuji San. I snapped a few digital pics of the local rice field stubble as the sun went down and that was it. In previous years I might have been off visiting Tateyama, Tsubakurodake or even running around the upper Ara River. But this time those ten minutes were all I gave myself. Coming back from Kumagaya on Monday I saw the crescent moon, Venus and one of the gas giants (possibly Jupiter or Saturn) suspended in the fading orange light of dusk over the summit of Fuji San. It could have made for a lovely image: three heavenly bodies positioned in a powerful tight wedge over the volcanic cone. But alas, I had no camera and the little one needed to get home for a diaper change.

Another first this year is that I’ll be going back to Canada for two weeks without my cameras. Usually a trip home entails a visit to Whistler or the Rockies crammed in between the family gatherings and visits to friends. But this year the only mountain views I will enjoy are those of the North Shore Mountains as viewed from around the Greater Vancouver Area. Two reasons I am not going: we are really shy of funds, which is a crying shame since the yen is currently trading at 78 yen to a Canuck buck (as opposed to 106 yen to the dollar as it was only in September), and the wife would surely oppose the idea of driving around in –15 to –20 degrees with her six-month old. I could go by myself but I know she wouldn’t want to be left with my parents for three days while having to care for our baby too.

For me I think a trip to the Rockies could be profitable. Yama to Keikoku Sha (山と渓谷社) paid me 90,000 yen (minus 10% tax) for one photo from the Rockies for their 2009 World Mountains calendar. Surely a three-day trip to capture the mountain scenery would be paid for if another photo was selected next year.

Getting the tickets was a big hassle too. First Air Canada raised the fuel surcharge in spite of falling gas prices. The new price was in the red for us, meaning we would have to dip into our emergency fund to pay for the tickets. Then Air Canada suddenly decided they needed the tickets paid for by November 27th, even though I had agreed with the travel agency to pay for them by the 10th of December when I get paid at work. Though previously H.I.S. had refused my credit card because it was not an H.I.S. credit card, they said they would accept it this time. But when I tried to pay a security message appeared on the computer screen and I had to enter lots of personal information and create a security password, which I did, and was then rejected anyway. After three tries we had to give up. There was a moment wondering how we were going to pay with me having to go to work soon and no other chance to come to pay before the deadline. Then the travel agent suggested calling my wife and asking for her credit card details. The transaction went through!

Next we found that to get my son’s passport my wife had to change hers too because her passport still had her maiden name. But if we changed her passport then her plane ticket would be cancelled because the name on the tickets wouldn’t match the name on the passport. Thankfully I could sign for my son’s passport and no tickets had to be cancelled.

So the three of us are going it seems, but if for any reason the my wife or son has to cancel then, damn the torpedoes, I am going to the Rockies anyway!


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