The snow is melting and I am thinking about rivers. I once saw a scroll by Ito Jakucho, one of a small group of Japanese artists known as The Eccentrics. Fond as I am of eccentricity I would have loved him for that alone, but the scroll, Happy Improvisations on a Riverboat Journey, captivated me.
In the spring of 1767 Jakucho and his friend Daiten Kenjo, a Zen monk, journeyed down the Yodo River, from Kyoto to Osaka; along the way Jakucho sketched and Kenjo wrote poetry. Jakucho created an enormous scroll (39 feet long!) of woodblock prints (unusual at the time) and Kenjo's poetry, capturing their journey. The process of this project, the languid journey, the way it unfurls in time and space, the two companions, is so moving.
From ages 7 to 14 I lived on the Severn River in Maryland, a place of vital importance to who I am. I have a longing to see the river. So much of my adult life has been seduced by oceans, I forgot the power of rivers with their currents and coves.
Jakuto is also known for his Colorful Realm of Living Beings, thirty scroll paintings made for a monastary in Kyoto. This painting of roosters feels very modern, considering it was painted in the 18th century.
Of course, rivers are never this color (are they?), but they have riverbanks, lives built along them, unique histories, cultures. So many rivers I've never seen--the Mississippi, Amazon, Nile, Ganges. (See beautiful river pictures here) However, I do feel like I know them, from novels I've read that bring them to life. Speaking of novels, I recently finished Matterhorn, and recommend it if you think it's the kind of book you might like. Now I'm reading A Suitable Boy, and loving it.
I'm considering adjusting my lifelong fantasy of a beach house to a river house. How 'bout you--ocean, river, lake, creek?