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Komorebi (木漏れ日)

I almost felt like the "Wanderer above the Sea of Fog" in the oil painting by Caspar David Friedrich.

That Saturday morning, my partner and I decided to go for our habitual walk, taking our friend's dog with us up the hill bordering the northern side of our hometown. If the walk and the itinerary were just routine, the atmosphere was rather odd and unfamiliar : the town had entirely vanished under a thick blanket of fog. We stood overlooking the valley, as curls of mist licked the hillside, harmless avalanches going upwards. The landscape appeared, of course, much less dramatic than in the painting, but a dark green overcoat and a walking stick would have made me feel like a perfect wanderer.

The Romantic Bohemian impression quickly vanished as we climbed up in a cloudless forest. We were in high spirits, invigorated by the power of sun which we had not seen much at all in the past two months. Our conversations and laugthers resonated in the woods.

Then slowly, gradually, the mood shifted. We noticed the vivid greens of the moss and the lichen, we were stricken by the stillness and crystal-clear water of a large pool, the quietude of the place became palpable. We grew more and more silent. As we reached a viewpoint, one of our favourite place around here, the unexpected beauty of the scene took our breath away.

The familiar panorama was screened by a delicate veil of mist, at times letting us discern the thick blanket of fog above the lake and the hills around it, at times enveloping us completely. We stayed there for a while, appreciative of our luck to be standing there at this very moment. Even Mouski, the dog, seemed to contemplate the scenery with deep curiosity.

As we started our descent, the ebb and flow of the fog through the trees offered us the most magical spectacle. The sunrays, filtered by the trees and made visible by the mist, created shafts of light in all directions. They were stars we could touch ; divine light through stained-glass window. I was walking in a cathedral.

A word came to me : Komorebi. This is a japanese word used to describe this very phenomenon, sunlight filtering through the trees, and it has no simple translation in any other language. Coincidentally, I had read and learned about this word just a few days earlier in a magazine.

One very familiar place can metamorphose into an incredibly enchanting and ethereal surrouding. I was in awe. I decided to let Fred and Mouski walk ahead of me and stopped for a moment, taking in the magic of it all.

Komorebi is a graceful and fascinating lesson about one fundamental reality of life : everything is temporary.

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