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• August 27
• August 13
It was the late autumn of 1996. One article in the corner of the morning paper took away my breath. It was about Mr. L's death. What surprised me was not just the notice of his death but his address, which was at Koishiki in Kochi City. (As I had suspected, he had lived near the scene of the fire.) But let's not think about it. All I can do is simply to pray that his soul rests in peace. He was growing some crops in the mountain nearby and frequently went there to check their growth. He must have chanced upon the fire and tried desperately to put it out. "May his soul rest in peace."
My comet seeker has witnessed various incidents during that year. At the start of the new year it was going to meet the approaching comet Hale-Bopp. Comet Hale-Bopp, discovered by two American amateur astronomers, was welcomed by astronomy enthusiasts all over the world as one of the greatest comets in recent years. In the early spring of 1997 I packed my knapsack with a small comet seeker and a camera and climbed Mt. Takamiyama south of the city. This mountain is part of the ridges which include the neighboring Mt. Koishikiyama. In those old days suspicious fires occurred successively at Koishikiyama, but fires were also seen frequently at Mt. Takamiyama too.
While I was walking firmly and carefully on the stepping stones on a steep slope overlooking the magnificent night scene of Kochi City, I heard strange footsteps following me. I stopped to listen hard but no particular sound was heard. Still, while walking again, I heard strange clicking sounds as if someone were walking on the crutches and they followed me all along. (Come to think of it, Mr. L was using the crutches.) With that sort of wayward thoughts, I reached the small summit of the mountain. Comet Hale-Bopp appeared majestic over the mountains in the north with the expanse of lights of the city below. I stood there alone, mesmerized by its stunning beauty.
At that moment a deep voice boomed "It’s quite pretty, isn’t it?" Surprised by the voice, I turned around to find a man with an old soldier’s cap standing silently helped by a walking stick . (Oh, Mr. L!) I was stunned by shock and fear. I could only gaze at him.
But I was wrong. He was an old man who had no resemblance to Mr. L. He told me that he was living in a nearby nursing home and in the middle of strolling. He said that, as there had been a lot of fires recently around the nursing home at Mt. Hitsuzan, the home would be moved to Asakura. I told him about Comet Hale-Bopp, then he remembered that he saw a"fat"comet glowing stately overhead while watching sumo matches at a summer festival in his childhood. It was toward the end of Taisho period (1912 - 1926), but there is no way to know which comet it was. In old days I would hear about interesting stories about the stars from elderly people.
(to be continued)
Mt. Takamiyama viewed from my home
The mountain to the right of the center is Mt. Koishikiyama
Comet Hale-Bopp over Kochi City seen from Mt. Takamiyama
20-second exposure from 19:30 on March 1 1997
PENTAX 6X7 format camera 105mm f/2.4
Copyright (C) 2004 Tsutomu Seki.