I have always been very good at getting up in time. I have never owned an alarm clock. I just say to myself, “Tomorrow you get up at 4:oo.” and I wake up at 3:55.
On Saturday I was programmed to go a hunting the Rail. The Okinawa Rail is a heap rare bird as it only lives in the far northern forest of this one island, lost in the East China sea.
There are only some hundreds left and as they skulk in deep bush, seeing one is not given to all.
As luck would have it, I meet a man who lives in Rail country and he kindly offers to take me Rail spotting. I leap at the chance and we arrange to meet in Yanburu at 6:00am on Saturday. This means leaving my house at 4:00. I love this stuff – an adventure. I settle to sleep and dream of early morning stumbling around dripping bush in misty Okinawan mountains with happy Okinawan Rail guru.
At 3:30 I wake up and I wake up again at 6:00. Humiliation. I overslept. This was a bitter blow to my self-esteem. Not only had I betrayed my friend who had so willingly set up the trip, but also I had missed my kill. I did not pin my buck. I am old and useless to the pack.
This actually made me quite miserable for some time as I take it for granted that age will not wither me quite yet. There are increasingly convincing arguments to the contrary.
I pull myself from the slough of despond and determine that if I am not to see the dawn Rail maybe I can catch the dusk Rail.
By dusk I have reached The Enchanted Ground where the Rail doth live. Will my pilgrimage end in Doubting Castle or the Celestial City? I drive around and walk up and down but it all seems futile. There are hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest, what chance have I, a toothless wolf?
I am driving very slowly along of forest road when a Rail bursts out of the undergrowth and scampers across the road.
Wow! All too fast and unphotographable so I decide to park and watch. Maybe it will come back. It is very quiet, very sort of jungly, hot and humid with butterflies. I watch and wait or vice versa. I stare at the road with great concentration when distracted by a butterfly I look to the side. I see this.
Hmmm, what can I say? What is pleasure? Different for everybody I suppose but for me this is it, in a very pure form.
I stay for 30 minutes and many Rails put on a show to demonstrate that despondency should be resisted.
Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit,
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies fly away,
He’ll fear not what men say,
He’ll labor night and day
To be a pilgrim.
It was a wonderful experience. What is pleasure?
I turn South and West.