“Do you want a helmet?”

The clerk at the ski rental shop at Canyon Lodge on Mammoth Mountain asked in the same skeptical way that car rental agents are taught when they hawk their auto liability policies.

“Umm, no, I think I’ll be alright,” I said, with not much conviction and grabbed my boots, skis and poles.

This past weekend was my first chance to get on skis since an accident took me off of them a few years back. To this day, I think my best bit of skiing was getting down the mountain on one leg that day, without having to be bundled up and ignominiously dragged down by Ski Patrol. Skiing is one of those activities that I think you have to start early, before you are old enough to learn fear.

As a kid, I’d recklessly schuss down the slopes, but I’ve gotten cautious, and slow, and creaky. Although skiing isn’t just a sport for the young, as all the oldsters who gracefully flew past me can attest. I still remember how happy my Uncle Terry was when he was old enough for the senior discount at Mammoth.

"Ski Safe" is the message from Woolly, the Mammoth Mountain mascot.
“Ski Safe” is the message from Woolly, the Mammoth Mountain mascot.

The sticker shock on lift tickets, ski rentals, etc. was enough to mean that skiing will probably be a very occasional sport for us. I think there is a generation of JA kids whose Nisei/Sansei parents tossed them in the back of station wagons to head for the slopes of Mammoth or Mountain High.

The recent heat wave meant that the temperatures were in the 60s during the day, and although the all the lifts were open, there were quite a few brown patches.

I was hoping to see Les Inafuku, former Manzanar superintendent, who retired from the National Park Service and is a ski guide, but alas, it was just a merry mob of snowboarders and skiers in bright colors.

Thankfully I made it through the day and had a lot of fun. Eric is an advanced skier, but he patiently waited for me as I made my way downhill. It felt good to revisit a bad moment and emerge in one piece. If we hadn’t gone back, I’d probably never put on a pair of skis again.

I guess there is some truth to the Japanese proverb (kotowaza): nana korobi, ya oki — fall seven times, stand up eight.

* * *

Thursday’s announcement that the Honouliuli Internment Camp is now a national monument made for a memorable Day of Remembrance indeed. Another important piece of Japanese American history will now be preserved for future generations to study. It will be fascinating to see how the site is preserved and developed as the years ago by.

Visitors to Oahu who have journeyed to Pearl Harbor in recent years can’t help but notice the remarkable bookends of war. In aquamarine waters are the remnants of the USS Arizona marking the tragic beginning of World War II on Dec. 7, 1941 and the USS Missouri, where the Japan signed its unconditional surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, marking its end.

Within those bracketing historic events were years of death, loss and tragedies large and small. Located near Kunia, Oahu, the former camp is on land owned by Monsanto, which has pledged to work with the community on its preservation. The Honouliuli National Memorial will be able to tell the tragic story of Japanese Americans and the other prisoners who spent years in the “valley of hell.”

* * *

Horse always likes to leave ‘em laughing, but sometimes he also leaves me puckering — my lips that is — with his citrusy-sour kumquats. Susie, Horse’s wife, has on more than one occasion kindly picked some from their kumquat tree and given me a bag to share with staff.

When I brought them to Rafu the other day I was told that they are called kinkan in Japanese and are often served candied with sugar or as a marmalade. Can’t say I’ve ever tried kinkan kanro-ni (candied kumquats), but they sound like a tangy and delicious treat.

I’d be curious if any Rafu readers make their own version of kinkan kanro-ni? It sounds like one of those homemade delicacies that would be fun to sample.

Gwen Muranaka, English editor-in-chief of The Rafu Shimpo, can be contacted at Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.




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