For centuries, Japan has been a predominately rice-growing nation. Virtually every inch of available land is cultivated and it is not uncommon to see neatly planted rows of rice butting up against high rise buildings. Until the end of the 19th Century, feudal lords measured their wealth in Koku of rice, which was thought of as the amount needed to feed one subject for a year (about 278 liters). So the lord with the most Koku, had the biggest bank account. Centuries of cultivation produced flatlands between steep mountains ranges which provide wonderful vistas of long narrow valleys and misty hills. Moonlit nights further accentuate a hauntingly beautiful landscape. I find it little wonder that Edo Period artist Hiroshige often drew moonlight scenes in his depictions of everyday Japanese life in the waning days of the feudal era—just don’t ask me why I tied that to large-scale cosmology and the alley behind my boyhood home.
Distant galaxies glittered through my slice of light like house dust floating through a waning beam of sunlight on a quiet afternoon.
Then I remembered riding my bike down the alley behind my house when I was a kid and turning the corner into my driveway at full speed; knowing that the garage door would be closed; knowing a hundred thousand times it would be closed. Yet, I choose not brake in the millisecond before impact and the collapse of the giant star into a singularity.