Water Closet for December 11, 2015

[pullquote]”Early this fall she asked to be taken to Plum Island for what she thought was a last look at the ocean that always seems to connect her to home. “[/pullquote]Chitose Messenger of Middleton died last week within a couple hundred meters of tidal water in Danversport. Eighty six years ago she was born Chitose Yamaguchi near tidal water in Fukuoka, Japan.
Recently, while seriously ill, she liked to review her history for her three children and theirs. After one long evening session with many pauses, repetitions, and gentle questions by her listeners she slept long and well. Soon after awaking in the morning she happily exclaimed, “What a remarkable life I’ve had”!
From the age of three to sixteen she lived with family, one of eventually seven daughters and no sons, in a Japan at war on several fronts. In school her life was one of propaganda and patriotic exercises. As the Americans approached from the southeast across the Pacific she and classmates drilled with sharpened bamboo lances for the fight to death called for by some of their leaders. From mountain air-raid-shelter- caves she watched as her city Sasebo and its magnificent harbor were bombed. The incendiary bombs lit up the sky and later from below as wooden buildings burned. The young, despite orders, would sneak to the mouths of the shelters and watch from on high. Later she admitted feeling guilty for thinking at the time how spectacular and beautiful the awful fireworks had been.
Following the war she and family endured years of tough economic times under a remarkably benevolent American occupation. Emperor Hirohito had been forced to say he was not a god and the lances had never been used.

Chitose, about fifteen years ago, on one of many logs floated by Pacific Ocean tides on to a Vancouver Island, BC, beach.

Chitose, about fifteen years ago, on one of many logs floated by Pacific Ocean tides on to a Vancouver Island, BC, beach.

After school she apprenticed as a seamstress. She went on to make custom clothes on her own for the wealthy occupiers’ wives and families. With her extensive knowledge of cloth and clothing and with some English she applied to work in the United States Navy Exchange store. There in 1957 she met an American from his visiting navy ship. Four years later in 1961, following letters across the Pacific and a couple expensive long distance phone calls, they were married. Daughter Mika was born in Japan. She was six months old when Chitose and Yankee husband left Japan, flew east across the Pacific and a continent for a new life in Newport, Rhode Island, and then for the rest of a long life in Middleton. In the family’s year at Newport, Mika, mother at her side, sat on a stone wall separating Jackie Kennedy’s family estate from their Navy home and patted Macaroni, Caroline’s famous pony. At a later time when President Kennedy’s helicopter landed nearby, Chitose ran up the hill at Fort Adams to get a glimpse of her new ruler. He wasn’t an emperor, but to many he sure was charming and handsome. Son Ben was born near Newport Harbor at high tide. Son Kenji was born in Middleton.
Each year on New Year’s morning, they, sometimes with other family members, greeted the new year by watching the first sunrise from the rocky eastern shore of Cape Ann. Her father had faithfully done this from a mountain over looking the sea in Japan. Early this fall she asked to be taken to Plum Island for what she thought was a last look at the ocean that always seems to connect her to home.  With husband’s help she walked out on a board walk on a lovely warm day. On a bench provided by the Refuge she stared east for a long time at the calm waters. As they sat there a half mile long flock of tree swallows flew south skimming the dunes and their heads. Heads filled perhaps with thoughts of her home half a world away across three oceans.
Twenty years ago the following was written by her surviving husband.
Chitose’s Hands
Worn white maple table
Scrubbed clean a thousands times
By her square hands and grit.
Round woolen rugs
Braided taut from hundred scraps
By her strong hands and will.
Fine brown baskets
Twisted tight up tens of rows
By her deft hands and eye.
Three honest kids
Raised two decades long
By her kind hands and love.
Wondrous varied meals
Cooked cleverly with art
By her quick hands and soul.
Ten brown fingers
Wired finely to stout character
By the unseen hands of gods.

z z z

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Precipitation Data* for Month of: Sept Oct Nov Dec
30 Year Normal (1981 – 2010) Inches 3.77 4.40 4.55 4.12
2015 Central Watershed Actual 3.97 3.11 2.49 0.0 as of Dec 8

Ipswich R. Flow Rate (S. Middleton USGS Gage) in Cubic Feet/ Second (CFS):
For Dec 8, 2015  Normal . . . 62 CFS     Current Rate . . . 38 CFS
*Danvers Water Filtration Plant, Lake Street, Middleton is the source for actual precipitation data thru Nov..
**Middleton Stream Team is source of actual precipitation data for Dec.
Normals data is from the National Climatic Data Center.
THE WATER CLOSET is provided by the Middleton Stream Team: www.middletonstreamteam.org or <MSTMiddletonMA@gmail.com> or (978) 777-4584