|Gary Snyder as a young man
Nanao [Sakaki] got the word that one of the Southern islands off Kyushu was underpopulated because it was too isolated and the soil was too bad and that no one would object if some people moved in there and did some homesteading.
So he and seven and eight people went down and spent the first summer doing nothing but cutting back the bamboo tearing out the roots and planting sweet potatoes. The second summer was last summer. I was with them both summers for part of the time. I don't mean to say that they do this just in the summer. They've been doing this continuously since they started, but the summer has been the biggest push in land-clearing.
Last summer we cleared some more land, burned the brush, burned the stomps, rooted out more lands, put more into cultivation, and simultaneously we were able to cut lumber and drag it down from the hills and square off logs towards building a house.
During that period, because of typhoon weather, the ship didn't come. The ship only comes once a week and this little ship can't even come into the island. It has to stop offshore and then a boat goes out to it.
Because the ship didn't come, the food ran out. And this is a common thing for that ashram: to be out of food for three weeks or four weeks at a time. As we ran short on rations, we simply cut down the daily amount of food for everybody to two meals a day - a bowl and a half of gruel per person at a meal - and scrounged upon the countryside, got edible nuts. Because of the heavy surf we weren't able to do much fishing but we were able to gather shellfish. And we tried out some additional wild plants that we hadn't tried before.
|Gary Snyder slightly older.