Funky Icicles and Snowy Mountains

The other day, we went for an impromptu drive up into the northern mountains, although phrasing it that way perhaps makes it sound sounds like more of an adventure than it is. Kyoto is in a valley surrounded on three sides by mountains. You can be in a populated area of the city that gets virtually no snow for years, but a fifteen-minute drive puts you into what seems to be the middle of nowhere, where snows are measured by the meter.

Of course, there's not much snow left anymore, particularly after such a mild winter, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that there was some. We were on a small road winding up a mountain and came across a turnaround with a little wooden shrine / rest stop, so we stopped to play a bit.

On the back end of the shrine's roof, the snow had slowly been sliding off, and the projecting snow and long tendrils of ice sagged, and took on a curve under their own weight, thereby forming something that looked like a long row of frozen ram's horns. Sadly, I didn't have my camera, but I did borrow Fumie's phone with which to take a tiny picture.

Later, Fumie was standing some distance away with the camera phone, so I started lobbing snowballs at her. After a few warm-up throws, I had surprisingly good aim. I wasn't throwing hard, so she could easily lean out of the way, but it was silly fun and she tried to take a picture of a snowball coming at her.

Unfortunately, during the midst of this, she spent one moment concentrating just a bit too much on the picture and neglected to bob, and got positively plastered directly in the nose. (I did say that I was having excellent aim.)

I say “unfortunately” because she's my wife and decorum dictates that I say that, but it was really funny. Imagine my shock, totally expecting her to deftly bob out of the way as she had numerous times, when her face suddenly disappeared behind an expanding cloud of wet, slushy snow, the product of a slushball absolutely obliterating itself upon her nose.

Her first thought, after the initial shock, was to lament that she hadn't even gotten the picture. Her next thought was to remove the snow embedded in her nostrils.

After hugging her and apologizing profusely, we couldn't stop laughing as I helped her get the snow out of her face, hair, clothes, and even boots. We also took pains to make sure Anthony knew that I hadn't intended to hit her, much less hit her in the face. Considering that we didn't stop laughing for 10 minutes, I don't know how seriously he took us.

I really wanted to get a good picture of that funky curving snow, so the next day while Fumie was in Osaka on some preparations for a trip to Malaysia (mimicking our trip to Malaysia last year), Anthony, Fumie's mom, and I took another drive up into the mountains. Sadly, it was much warmer and the snow had mostly melted.

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 52mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Not Much Left

All the freaky ice and most of the oddly curved snow was gone. Oh well, we could still play in the snow on the ground.....

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 31mm — 1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Taking Aim

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 31mm — 1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 31mm — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Happy with the Results

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 44mm — 1/160 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Obaachan Laughing at Her Poor Throwing

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 26mm — 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Anthony Teaching: “You need a wide stance like this, then....”

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 18mm — 1/160 sec, f/9, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Looking Up: Very Tall and Very Straight Trees

Throughout the rest of our drive, we saw a lot more snow and a lot of pretty scenes, half of which involved snow and the other half involving plum blossoms.

All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

It is astounding to me that Fumie could get such a precise photo of the incoming snowball.,with a cell phone camera yet. Frankly, it tells such an obvious story that I think it could be contest-worthy. I loved it, the aftermath notwithstanding.
Re: the photos of Anthony throwing the snowball really stopped me for a minute….The location seemed like it was on the road above Marci’s Lake Arrowhead cabin. I could almost smell the pine trees.

— comment by Grandma Friedl on March 23rd, 2007 at 11:31am JST (17 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

I happened on your blog whiling trying to get some current info on Kyoto cuz I, my husband and 4 yr-old are visiting in a few days (from near one of your old stomping grounds, Palo Alto). I love your (& Fumie’s) photos and your commentary on your life in Japan and etc. Thanks for writing it.

— comment by sara on March 26th, 2007 at 2:04pm JST (17 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Yes, cute story, enjoyable to read. I’m always happy about spouses having fun together. 🙂

— comment by Anne on September 5th, 2012 at 3:30am JST (11 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink
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