He spent only a few minutes in the shrine each day, pondering the future. Since he had no idea what that could be, it required very little pondering.
Most of his time he now passed in reflection, sifting memories. But that spiritually satisfying event was firmly put off until the proper moment; after path sweeping and the arrival of tea in the pagoda, no matter what the weather. Except rain, of course.
Before the much anticipated tea, aside from all the rest already mentioned, it was his self-imposed duty to stop at the tiny bridge over the lotus pond to see that the carp and goldfish were happy. The fish knew his habits and immediately rose to the surface when his shadow fell on the water. He took a few bits of food from a small clay dish the gardener always left at the foot of the bridge and sprinkled them on the water. He watched with contentment as the carp and goldfish eagerly fought for the choice pieces.
Then, at the left corner of the garden it refreshed him to pause to admire the graceful stand of slender bamboo swaying gently in the light morning breeze. He marvelled, "So like a young woman."
Finally, arriving at the pagoda that over-looked all this, he rested his broom at the side of the steps, entered the shelter, and gratefully sank into the deep, soft cushions of a woven bamboo chair. Already the pains in his chest were upon him again. He ground his teeth, ignoring their warning, fiercely demanding that they go away.
Chin appeared instantly, announced only by the lightest whisper of soft slippers on the red mat. He carried a lacquered tray holding rice cakes and a delicate porcelain pot and cup, both decorated with a soft blue pattern. It was dragon well tea, the best. Only the very tip of the green tea leaf was used and when brewed, the leaves magically opened looking like a butterfly coming to life from a cocoon. The scent of the tea was fresh and tangy as mists rising from distant pine forests at sun's first sight through the purity of morning air.