Nov 12 Best 10

Late, but here goes: Today was mainly about Yuto’s and my trip to the apple orchards with I CAN.

1. Son Yuto is in a very excited mood because we decided he was coming apple picking with the I CANers this morning. 3-year-old excitement is fun for everybody.

2. We had a small meeting before getting into the car at I CAN, and went through the very Japanese ritual of self-introductions, as Yuto was a guest. Because he WON the rock-paper-scissors decision mechanism, Yuto was first, his dad watching a bit too closely. And he did just great. In Japanese, “My name is Charles Yuto, my favorite food is chocolate, and today I want to pick a lot of apples.” With no one to model after, I thought that his was right on. I’m biased. He smiled.

3. Beautiful blue skies. Good driving weather for the hour-plus into the mountains in Nagano prefecture. You remember Winter Olympics there, right?

4. The drive up with Yuto in the passenger seat, 4 I CANers sitting behind us. In a way, taking my son on an event like this is a mini-dream come true. Though I couldn’t get past the feeling that most of the conversation was beyond him, and I spent energy trying to be equally an I CAN teacher and a dad, I felt like Yuto really grew up on this trip with the older kids.

5. A very warm greeting by Aoyama, the man who owns the orchard/preschool here. The preschool itself is incredible, with hand-built showers and library, a wooden main building that looks like a log ski cabin, emphasis on cooperative learning in a natural setting. Yes, our kids would be going here if it wasn’t an hour each way!

6. Picnic lunch under bright red-leaved autumn trees in crisp blue air.

7. Playing in a treehouse with my son. Swinging on the giant, “scary” rope swing.

8. Yuto again, racing with the big boys down a giant hill, taking a wild, cartwheeling spill, getting scared, crying, hugging dad, then 2 minutes later being back on the starting line.

9. Lifting my son up to pick the giantest fruits from trees laden down with softball-sized red “Fuji” apples.

10. Telling the stories all over again to Mom at dinner.

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