A few days ago, when it was too fine and crisp to stay home, I went to the famous resort named Shiobara. It is located 30 or 40km north of here in the mountain area. There are a number of renowned hot spas around that place. I was looking forward to finding the colorful foliage there. As a result of this short drive trip, it was too early to enjoy that scenery of fall there yet.
Very few tourists there. Getting off the car, I walked down to the river in the valley. The leaves were lightly tinted but were not typical for gorgeous colors in fall yet. Pretty hard wind was blowing as an effect from a typhoon passing east of here in the Pacific Ocean. Maybe, only 100m of altitude, I got down and up, has made me shaky on my legs.
There was rather little water in the river. The valley was steep. In late fall, possibly in next month, we could have a breathtaking scene on its both sides.
Getting into deeper in the mountains, there was a small village apart from the hot spa inn area. even quieter place. If I had headed north of there, I could have been to Fukushima. Since it was getting overcast, I gave it up. Turned to south.
On a ridge between Shiobara and Nikko. Very few cars on the road. It was even rainy on the way. The hard wind broke branches off from trees along the road. Those fallen branches partially obstructed the way. Parking at a lot on the way.
During this drive, two persons have come up in my mind.
One was Ozeki, exJA1APF. He was a good ham friend of mine who passed away almost 30 years ago. I knew him through a QSO on UHF mobile when I and family went for driving this area. He was working at a small factory in this area which had produced helmets for bike riders. He stayed there on the week day while he got back home in Saitama on 2 hours drive. At that very first QSO, he was on the way back home. He was almost ten years older than me and a very sociable person. He had been positive for anything, like repairing ham radio gear or putting up antennas. He hated anything wrong. He was still a kind person as well. One time, when my mother got sick, he kindly took her to hospital by himself while I could not do with her owing to my work schedule. We used to chat on UHF quite often when he went back home in week ends.
In a cold morning in winter about 25 years ago, I was woke up by a phone call from a hospital near his work place. The doctor told me Ozeki was seriously ill and wanted me to come there. i rushed to that hospital where I found him already having passed. It seemed that myocardial infarction had killed him. It was a really big loss for me to have him gone away. I was shocked to know it had been me, but not his family, whom he had wanted to call at the very last moment of his life. Has he thought I could help him in that agony? Have I done what he relied on me? Did I deserve his faith on me? Relationship with friends could be such a profound thing, I have learned from him.
The other person was Jim VK9NS, a famous DXpeditioner. I have already written about this episode in Facebook. He was here in Tochigi to attend a DX meeting. The day after, I took him for a tour in this mountainous area. We took a bath together at a hot spa there. Was it early summer? Through the big window at the bath, we could see beautiful foliage vivid and green. Since that tour, we have chatted on CW a few times in a year. It has been 6 years since I heard of his death through the internet.
Recently, I recall those already passed away oftener than people still alive. Of course, it is because I am getting older and have lost many friends. I am, however, more conscious of those passed away and of the things at and after death for myself. It is not a pessimism or negativism but a natural attitude toward life at my age, I believe. It is an event mentally as well as physically hard to get through. But it could be an eternal relief from worries and pains in this world. I should get ready for that. It may let me live my life in meaningful way. Driving through the tortuous roads on the ridge, I vaguely thought of such a thing in addition to the memories of those friends.