All around Kenko are signs of late autumn. The flowers, irregularly strewn yet carefully placed, so completely matches Kenko’s aesthetic ideas of simplicity, irregularity, and incompleteness–not to mention his ascetic notion of the value of exclusion–that he is taken aback. That a man could live like this is… if not wisdom, then at least admirable. But the tangerine tree spoils everything.
The tree is out of place (it represents ever-fullness not final, fallen moments), it is out of season (summer jutting into late fall), and it is incomparably, greedily unwelcoming (a tree behind a closed gate).
‘And how could the tangerine tree have been otherwise so that it was in keeping with Kenko’s aesthetic?’ my love asked.
‘It would have had to have been a well-tended yet humble tree whose few flowers had only just fallen.’
‘But that is not what I asked. I asked about how a fruit tree could be otherwise yet still be in keeping with Kenko’s aesthetic–that is, if it weren’t to be the overfull tangerine tree.’
‘That’s a good question. Then it would have had to have been a well-tended yet humble fruit tree and not tangerine, say, but a milder fruit such as plum or pear. Such a tree would have had to have held a few pieces of fruit only, and a few pieces of the choicest fruit would have been placed in an irregularly shaped, beautiful bowl. The gate would have had to have been open, yet it is conceivable that no one would ever come in. On the other hand, it is also conceivable that a traveler–uninvited but always welcome–would come in and be suddenly refreshed.’