Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19: Sun-shower

This afternoon while running an errand I got caught out in a torrential downpour. I got soaked in about 60 seconds. It was rather invigorating. By the time I got back to the office, the rain had passed through. The sun shone, and vultures soared ecstatically in the blue sky, wheeling over Mount Battie on gusts of wind. And there I was with wet hair dripping all over my desk. But soon enough, another clump of clouds rolled in, and it began to rain again--though the sun was still shining, the western sky a wide scrap of blue. As we  were leaving work, a faint but full rainbow arced over the mountaintop, briefly bridging it with rapidly fading colors.

From the movie "Kurasawa's Dreams" I learned that this kind of sun-shower is the foxes' wedding day. If you happen upon the ceremony itself, as happens to a boy in the movie, you will never be able to return home. (That's just one haunting "dream" in this beautiful film.) I always think of it when experiencing this weather pattern, the scene of the fox bride and groom upright and dressed in ceremonial clothing, marching through the trees with their wedding procession, one of them turning to look right at the boy spying on them...

Interestingly, in checking it out just now as a bit of Japanese folklore, I discovered that the theme of a trickster animal getting married during a sun-shower is common all over the world. For many cultures it's foxes, but in Bulgaria, apparently bears get married, and hyenas in Kenya. In other places, devils or other evil spirits get married. What's up with that? That's the kind of thing I would have loved to have studied back when I was taking folklore classes in grad school.

In any case, foxes in this neighborhood should have done their "marrying" a couple of months ago, so I'm not worried about stumbling upon their wedding. What does worry me, however, is that some night I'm going to hear a vixen screaming in the woods and drop dead of a heart attack.

Sun shining through rain--
fading rainbow a bower
for foxes' wedding.

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