An hour later, we'd left the city behind us and were wandering through a quiet rural district. I plucked some tender new leaves off a hedge and made a grass whistle. I'd learned to whistle this way by watching a friend from Kagoshima, and I'd become quite good at it. I whistled on with great satisfaction, while Sensei looked about him, unimpressed with my talent.
By and by we came to a grove of trees, of medium height and thickly veiled in new leaves, through which a small lane passed. 'Such-and-such Garden' was posted on the gatepost, so it was clearly not a private estate. Sensei looked at the gently ascending lane and suggested we take it. I replied that it looked to be a nursery.
We proceeded into the thicket, topped a low rise, and saw a house on the left. The shōji were open wide, but there were no inhabitants visible within. The only sign of life was a large bowl, set under the eaves, in which goldfish swam.
"It's quiet back here. Do you think it's okay to proceed unannounced?"
"I don't expect they'll mind."
We proceeded further, but saw not a soul. Azaleas bloomed in profusion, setting the scene ablaze with color. Sensei pointed out a taller bush of reddish yellow. "That must be Kirishima."
A field was planted with peonies, but it was too early in the season for their flowers. At the edge of the peony field was a raised platform of weathered wood. Sensei laid himself out for a rest. I seated myself on the other edge for a smoke. Sensei gazed into the depths of the clear sky. I took in the colors of the new foliage around us. On close observation, all of the colors were subtly dissimilar. Even among the same variety of maple, no two trees were matched in hue. Sensei's hat, which he'd tossed over the top of a thin cedar sapling, was rocked by the breeze and dropped to the ground.