In Japanese the word for red is aka and the word for baby is aka-chan. I remember the word for baby as something like ’little red’ or, ‘red, whom we know well’. Question then, why is the baby red? The answer: because of autumn leaves.
At the foot of the mountain that houses a hundred monkeys, there’s a marketplace. The streets are lined with tiny maples. Tourists pass the trees, which are too small to give shade. Autumn is a week late, according to the newspapers. It’s front-page news but even the ladies who sweep the streets (whose job it is to keep track of the leaves) don’t stop to give the matter much thought. People used to come here just to see the trees. Things change. The mountain that houses a hundred monkeys doesn’t live up to its name any more. The monkeys had a war. One faction had to be captured and sent to a ranch in Texas. Now there are 280 monkeys on the mountain. Some of them take to the streets at night. To me, they are the Trash Monkey Mafia. In exchange for the right to root through the ripest garbage they can find, the monkeys leave jobs for street sweepers in their wake. When morning comes, they ape their way back top the mountain, over crosswalks and river bridges, like old men on their way to work.
Only those old, human men seem to notice this year’s delinquency of trees. Some men stop, and with crossed arms they silently administer stern lectures. It’s as if the old men are waiting impatiently to see a plant performance. But these trees are keeping their clothes on. The leaves stay green. All the papers can say is “Global warming, Indian summer.”
When the tiny maples do decide to throw down their leaves they will turn red. Their little digits will turn and sway, like a baby’s hands, trying to grab the mountain.