Benishoga’s Birthday

With grand aplomb I am pleased to announce another installation of Zukémono’s Adventures Beyond Culture.  Thanks to Andy Gladstone for this magnificent piece of creative prose.  Andy took some of my own memories and remixed them into his maybe-not-so imaginary heroine’s creative endeavours.  So please enjoy the following perhaps-rather plausible series of indomitable events.



Zukemono awoke (as if that begins to cover it) with the dawning of the day.

eagerly bounding from her bed refreshed, excited, energetic, imbued with the dream she had so smilingly snoozed into reality.  a dream which ceded no ground, paid no credence and proffered no nevermind to the alleged duality of awake/asleep.  holistically speaking, our girl could never be bound by the unwholesome restraints of a black/white, “this is it & that’s all there is” seriousness of a culture that has confused wisdom with the ability to jam a round world into ever shrinking square containers, regardless of the damage done.  sure those boxes could be neatly stacked, and, from a full frontal view, do indeed appear to be ever so properly & logically constructed.  however, a quick peak behind those frigid boxes (& whom who knew would not expect Zukemono to pull back the curtain) reveals our precious spirituality oozing out the back.  the infinite and ever expanding laws of the universe cannot be so easily constrained by the transient powers that be, those purveyors of modern rationale, no matter how strong their current tenuous grasp.  their folly no different than the oft repeated myth that all we paid was trinkets for the island of Manhattan, when in fact the cost included an ever increasing diminution of our decency, the further sacrificing of our soul, and the additional ravaging of the richness & depth of the knowledge that we are all one.


Benishoga awoke, just as his cousin Zukemono had seen in her dream.  rocking to & fro, at one with the clattering of the iron horse along the steel tracks, softly drifting his gaze out the massive window into the world of wonder which is deepest China.  a potpourri of brilliant images filled his head, overwhelming his senses.  towering glaciers miraculously rising over desert sand, tattooed with ancient cave paintings deep within their frozen bellies, five hundred year old marketplaces framed by thousand year old city gates, a town linked by terraced grapevines and ancient waterways along which groups of women slowly simmered horseshoe crabs.  yes, horseshoe crabs, biologically more closely related to spiders than crabs, categorized as “living fossils” for their status as the last remnants of a once proud & enormous biological family, dating back over 250,000,000 (some say 400,000,000) years and whose rare blue-blood (calm down you jealous red-blooded european noblemen, a fact’s a fact) is today considered a medical miracle with properties which may, dear reader, one day save your very life.


a deep thirst welled up inside Benishoga, as if; blazing desert sun had parched tongue and throat, fiery desert sand had infiltrated each & every breath, glistening waters cascading off majestic glaciers were an isolated unknowable delight.  he did not yet suspect that his desiccated longing was a mere magical prelude to the manifestation of a dream.  he reached around his seat feeling for his tea jar, wrapped within a ball jar cozy which had been lovingly crocheted by Zukemono as a bon voyage gift.  securing the jar, he headed towards the front of the rail car and the old-fashioned thermos of steaming “kai shui” (open water) to add to the tea leaves in his jar.  as he lurched forward he suddenly felt quite hungry.  this mysterious hunger appeared as swiftly as had his overwhelming thirst and still, he remained unaware of the mirthfully magical powers at play in his longings.  he slowly poured the scalding water into his jar, fully appreciating his cousin’s cozy which permitted him to hold the jar with no discomfort, and made his way back to his seat.  he sank down with a welcome sigh & closed his eyes for a moment.  a vision of his favorite boyhood treat danced in his head as with sight gone, hunger, for the moment, ruled the roost.

as Benishoga opened his eyes, his mouth too opened wide with surprise.  on his small table, built in to the railcar, next to the open window, adventure had surely begun.  a gilded platter of brilliantly colored (and beloved) umeboshi (pickled plums) danced beside his freshly poured steaming tea.  slowly, a smile of loving recognition spread across his face.  with the dawn of the day came the dawn of the realization that Zukemono was making merry magic.  at that very moment, as if she sat beside him, he heard her whisper “happy birthday cousin” and felt her kiss his cheek.


his silent thank yous echoed off the glaciers, majestically rising above the dry arid desert, and rode the four winds to simultaneously arrive at Zukemono’s door.




1 reply
  1. charlotte keith
    charlotte keith says:

    Lovely transitions from exotic places of the mind and imagination to food stuff! A true adventure.

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