Monday, May 27, 2002

Netsuke, ojime, sagemono

Three lovely Japanese sisters are riding their bikes off the ferry at Provincetown the other morning we were visiting. I'm sitting in the car and can see to the extreme right the three of them stop on the road next to our car, adjusting their backpacks and fanny packs, one has a belt with a swiss army knife and other implements hanging off it. They look like they're getting ready for a day-long bike trip.

There's a sign blocking my view, which frames the scene even more tightly. As the first sister stops to balance on her bike and wait for the other two, I can see a perfect portrait of her muscular legs, pretty shorts and a her feet in flip flops or call them thongs, both feet and legs strained and stretched. The bike is too tall for her.

She has a lovely foot, fully arched, nearly 90 degrees to the road, as the lavender rubber thong lays completely flat on the road. Her calf, hard and strong, has that long thin dimple line as if someone's pressed a ruler along her leg bone from knee to ankle. She is shifting her weight from side to side, both feet barely reaching the ground, her feet more stretched than a Barbie doll's arches. Her other sisters are behind her and she turns impatiently looking to see what they're doing. Her feet teeter totter from side to side impatiently to keep the bike up.

I see them say something to one another, the middle sister smiles, comes up close to the first sister. She's got black and white sneakers on with thick white rubber soles, no socks. She bends quickly to undo them, her hair tumbling down. I wish they weren't wearing western clothes. They have lovely black straight cascading hair and the girls would make a stunning portrait in traditonal kimonos.

With a swiftness, the first sister and the second swap thongs and sneakers. Ah, I see, the middle one has given the first sister just the extra inch of shoe she needs to take this journey comfortably. Now, they're off, all three girls down the road.