Solitude & Freezing Cold Feet
I’m on an early morning train, stealing glances at the young woman sitting diagonally across from me. Purple sneakers with thick white soles; jeans, artificially faded (you can just tell); a black down coat to match her hair, tickling her shoulders in time with the movement of our car. Her face is buried in a lavender scarf; I can only see her eyes, at the same time bright and lost in thought.
I find it interesting, looking at strangers. You never know in any meaningful sense where they are coming from or where they’re going. We can guess, but we’ll never know how right or wrong we are.
As if aware of my thoughts the girl lifts her eyes to mine. Her face remains hidden in her scarf, her body as unmoving as her glance is deep. In the window behind her the mountains and the valley drift by in the muted blues and grays of dawn.
Togakushi is still two hours and one bus ride away. The weather during the six or seven hours I’ll be hiking is impossible to predict. Nature can be fickle four thousand feet up.
As if suddenly bored with the view our train leans into the hills and slips into a tunnel. For a minute the world is black. When the light returns I can see nothing out my window but pines dusted white and the contoured hints of a snowed-over river. Save for our train and the tracks disappearing into the powder ahead the world of man has ceased to exist.
I glance over again. The girl’s eyes have turned away.