Last February we went to Shiga Kogen to ski.  The views were spectacular and the snow was perfect – powdery and dry.  Today with the extreme heat, is the perfect time to look at them and remember the bright, clear, cold days of winter.



The Highest Bakery in Japan

This past week I spent three days in Shiga Kogen, in Nagano prefecture.  It simply breathtaking up there in the mountains.  The clouds actually float below some of the peaks and it’s possible to see for miles with the clarity of the sunlight.  When skiing there, you can go up one lift and down the mountain; take another lift and go down a different side of the mountain and so on and so on.  You can go up and down and up and down for miles!

At the top of Yakote-yama, one of the bigger mountains, is the highest bakery in Japan, standing tall at 2300 meters high (7585 feet).  It’s absolutely adorable!  And the breads are fantastic.  I had a pretty simple roll, but Marc had a chocolate-filled bread.  We both had a bottle of Coca Cola.  I cannot recall when the last time was that either of us drank a Coke, but just seeing it there in the old-fashioned bottle, made us crave it.

The whole trip was fantastic, and we have David Green of Discover Japan to thank for it.  He is in his 27th consecutive year of planning trips – community ski trips – to Shiga Kogen.  He’s got it down to a science.  His clientele, like me, appreciate that all I have to do is show up – David will take care of everything else.

Here are a couple of more breathtaking photos of the bakery and the scenery.  Enjoy!!

The Sign for the Bakery!




Parenting: A Journey

Marc, Aimee, Bailey and Sydney at New Year's

I’ve learned quite a bit about parenting this week.  Maybe it doesn’t have a lot to do with writing, but frankly, anything that has to do with me has to do with writing.

This week, my husband, my daughter and I are off skiing.  Where is my son, you might ask?  Well, he’s with his classmates doing work on a project and skiing elsewhere.  Bailey has been away from us many times in the past – heck, he goes to sleepaway camp for a few weeks every summer. But this is the first time we are taking a family vacation with ¼ of our family missing.

Bailey is going to have an excellent time!  He’s with his 5 best friends in his principal’s ski house in Nagano.  They have papers to write ahead of their big trip to New York to the United Nations in April and the teachers and principal thought this would be the best use of the 4-day weekend.  They will work and ski and work and ski.  Bailey was wildly excited to go.

So what I learned this week is that the hardest part of parenting is doing what’s best for the child when all you want to do really is to hold on tight.  This is his time; he is growing his wings.  I’m so proud of him.  A bit sad for me, but still very proud and excited for him.  This is just the beginning of the process for all of us, but we’ll take it one step at a time and like I’ve said before, enjoy the journey.

Seeing Like A Writer

Taken from the highest point at Yakote Yama

This week we spent three days at Shiga Kogen in Nagano skiing.  The weather could not have been more perfect – sunny and about -2 Celsius every day.  My kids and my husband are great skiers and I’m still mediocre at best, so while they were off at lessons or swishing down black diamond trails, I got to spend some time alone on lifts and on the lower slopes.

And this is how I know I’m a writer: all I could think of as I surveyed the stunning scenes is how I would or could describe them in words.  Here’s a few sentences I composed while sitting two meters above the snow or skiing down or simply watching other people:

  • The trees, heavy with new snow, bow to the mountain
  • The green fir trees stand as a white-dressed army surrounding the serenity of the slope.
  • The cloud hovers gently over the surrounding mountains
  • The facing mountains huddle together, radiating joy at the prospect of the impending snowfall.
  • Sydney’s curls escaped impatiently from the edges of her ski helmet, indignant at the prospect of containment.
  • As Bailey came to a full stop, he pushed his skis together in a quick parallel motion, gleefully swishing snow all over his father.
  • The snow swirled around in the air, glinting and winking the promise of fresh powder on the slopes.

    A second view from the top of Yakote Yama (there was an easy-ish slope down from the top!)

These are just a few that I can remember or have written down.

Because I am a writer, I compose as I view any vista.  I compose in my head when I see something beautiful.  I hear dialogue and make a mental note of the word order or intonation so I can apply it to a story later.  If a group of friends is sitting together at dinner, I mentally remove myself from the tableau and try to see it from the outside and wonder how I’d write the scene.

Aimee, in full ski gear, at 2300 Meters high - that is more than a mile and a half above sea level.

Sometimes I say my sentences out loud and friends or family members look at me askance.  I know they are seeing the same things that I am, but somehow when I try to put words to the experience others might find it confusing.  But this is how I make meaning out of my world: I write it.