I went today to a small park near my apartment, where old men ringed a small, meticulously crafted pond, casting lines into it. The pond was no bigger than my parents' house in America - smaller, even, two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room of opaque green water. The men's tools were not excessive to their task - just simple poles with single lines, no reels. One man used a pole no longer than his own arm, flicking it as gently as a paintbrush as he pulled in silver, knuckle-long minnows, then, using a chopstick, flicked them off the barbless hook and back into the water. Most of the men had chairs and umbrellas, drinks and coolers, set for the day. Noone spoke, except for one man in a straw porkpie hat, gaunt and buttoned into a peach-colored holiday shirt, making conversation mainly with himself. There was one man different from the rest - not old and ready to retire, but middle-aged, with only a streak of grey, and dressed in khakis and long sleeves. He should have been at work, it was clear.
The silence and stillness of the setting was intoxicating. A turtle sat on a carefully placed stone in the center of the pond, and over the course of an hour it turned itself, once, and then again, alternating which side was warmed by the sun. A small flock of sparrows swept from one side of the small space to another, flitting among trees, lighting in the delicate maples and weeping willows that cantilevered over the water. In that stillness, they were like clowns or children. As I watched the birds, I noticed that the stray businessman had pulled up something golden. A tiny thing, but he let it flip on the end of his line, turning his head to one side as it threw off water. He seemed confused.