The beast leaned into him, huffing it’s warm breath over his cheek. He leaned into the beast, taking in the sweet musty smell of the animal. The smell of tea shrubs and fragrant white flowers.
Alone he had removed the rocks and debris from the field. Raked the earth smooth until it was finally ready for the beast.
The beast stepped forward, it’s great hoof covering his bare foot. The sharp sound of bones breaking and the intense pain lifted his spirits. A sign that it was time to begin.
Stepping into the field the beast followed him. The hooves of this son and grandson of great Samurai warrior horses left deep indentations as he followed the limping monk back and forth across the field. Finally the field appeared as though filled with gentle waves of the ocean coming into high tide. The beast nodded it’s head as if to bow to the monk sensing it’s duty was done.
A simple meal of boiled millet and pickled vegetables was eaten with the hashi (chopsticks) he kept in his sleeve. Tying the hashi together with a small length of red silk cord from the beast’s armor he was ready for the next task.
Into the middle of each hoof print he pushed his hashi into the earth. Into that hole he dropped one tea seed. Covering each seed with the rich soil he moved to the next hoof print and continued until the entire field was planted.
In the fall of the third year the plants were shoulder height. The monk knew the first harvest would occur the coming spring. The monk also knew that harvest would produce the finest tea, honcha, the real tea. Those worthy of this scarce treasure, and who could afford the cost, would enjoy a tea ceremony attaining ultimate understanding, good fortune and good health.
As the monk limped through the field he allowed simple pleasures to fill his heart, taking in the familiar musty smell of tea shrubs and white fragrant flowers and the great beast.