The wind beats heavily against the loose windows at Green House A, and the cold spots on the floor can be felt through thick socks, but the snow hasn't stuck yet (1), my car (2) is riding high on her winter tires, and I have plenty of draft tape, blankets, and tea.
The prospect of heading out in the weather gets steadily less and less pleasant as the season wears on, but there's interest to be had here and there, as when, on a lazy afternoon a few days ago, I popped my head out my front door to find a scruffy foursome of neighborhood 5th graders playing kickball in the parking lot.
<Oh, hey, it's you, from school!> <Kenny, right?>
--<Well, no, the other guy....>
<Oh, yeah, Sutefu... Stephanie!>
--<Good guess-- she was the girl...>
<HEY, roll the ball for us!>
--<Is it really OK to be playing here? What happens if you hit a window?>
<Oh, Yuta didn't put any air in the ball so it won't go anywhere. Roll it real hard, OK? We're winning 8-2. >
And so I ended up playing pitcher three innings in a row, doing my best to even up the score. It felt nice to get to do something social straight on without the usual round of Japanese introductions. Of course, there was a downside...
<HEY! Uh, WHITE GUY!>
-- <What? I have a name, you know...>
<You're the kicker now!>
<OK, I have a name...>
<The yard behind the house over there is a home run, so hit it hard, OK?>
<OH YEAH! David! YEAH! OK, hit it hard! >
And so on for the afternoon, and into the evening, when darkness fell, the boys' parents arrived to collect their (very very late) offspring, and I got introduced to my neighbors by their 8-year old sons...
(1) This waits until Saturday when the weather ministry calls for 20cm of accumulation, plus another 6 on Sunday, plus...
(2) Update: I settled on 雪子／Yukiko ('Snow-child'). It just seems like good voodoo.