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At the end of today, it was done. The kominka is nothing more than ashes and a few piles of straw and rubble.

There’s more to do, of course. Those piles of hay need to be moved and the lot flattened out and readied for the next stage. But we’re all overdue for a break.  The last ten days have been a whirlwind of action. From here we will be able to go more slowly.

Fujii-san, his yumbo, his workers, and the incinerator were the key to the entire process. Without the decisive and skilled actions of the “Monaca International Rescue Team”  555 would still be there, charred and sad.

And although the house is gone, the land, its plants, and geography are still there. Today we spent some time tidying up the burned foliage. Kawasaki-san climbed up on a table and braved the thorny yuzu tree, cutting away the branches that had badly burned. I hacked back over 250 stalks of roasted bamboo. Mrs Kawasaki and I tended to the water hyacinth in the fish pond and weeded some of the evil bushkiller vines. It was extremely pleasant to shift focus for a while.

Tod & I, along with the Kawasakis, will create a happy future at 555. For now, though, it’s time to rest and recover.

Bonus content
Ten Things I Learned from this Experience

  1. When hosting a work party, it is customary to bring lots of cold tea and sports drinks and to offer sweets in the afternoon.
  2. Nobody will drink anything until you offer it three times or hand it to them directly.
  3. Heavy machinery is a massive boon when the operator is skilled. Shimizu-san can pick up a single pan with his claw attachment and gently deposit it in a pile of other pans. He can also lift the most awkward and heaviest of objects.
  4. Whacking the hell out of things is very cathartic. Crowbars and handsaws are awesome.
  5. When picking through rubble for metal bits, you will fall into post-apocalyptic character and get excited when you find good Material – an iron pot, a large sheet of metal, a cookie tin.
  6. There are 9 Kawasaki households in the neighborhood. Not all of them are closely related. I need to make a map and chart.
  7. It is best just to wait until someone else initiates a conversation. And if nobody does, it is even better to just keep waiting. Silence is golden.
  8. As much as I want to know what’s going to happen next, whatever is going to happen doesn’t require advanced notice. It is good to be patient and let things unfold. Someone else is in charge. Or maybe not.
  9. Work starts at 8. Lunch is at noon. There will be frequent breaks and a snack at 3. We end around 5. In between, do what you see needs doing.
  10. When you can make the best of whatever happens, your life is better in every aspect.