Snuggling Against the Forest

If you go to the peripheral parts of Shiwa, you will stumble into scenes of houses snuggling against the forest. Sahinai, for example, is a district cut out of the mountains. The houses are more often than not farm compounds next to fields next to forests, which blanket the rest of the mountains.At the end of autumn, the fluff of the forests is reduced because many trees lose leaves, and their bareness makes the scene appear colder while simultaneously making the forest seem like a different sort of blanket, a comforter pulled over the shoulders of the household. Add to that woodsmoke from chimneys–not the rooftop-brick-stack variety but the steel-coming-out-sideways-from-the-house-like-a-tobacco-pipe variety. The smoke gives  the chill air a smell that adds to the contradicting sensations of coldness and warmth. You can picture the buildings bundling up for winter.

森に寄り添って

紫波の端にある地域へ行くと、森に寄り添う家の景色に出くわす。例えば、佐比内は山から切り出された地区だ。そこの家は大抵、田畑に隣接する敷地にあるのではなく、森に隣接しており、森はそれに続く山をも包む。秋の終わりに、ふんわりした森は縮こまる。多くの木が落葉するからで、その剥き出しになった様子から、景色は一層寒そうに見えるが、同時に、森は以前とは異なる掛け物、家を肩まですっぽり覆う掛け布団のように見える。それに加え、煙突は-屋根の上に覗くレンガ造りのものではなく、家の横から出ている金属のパイプのようなもの-薪を燃やす煙を吐き出す。その煙は冷気に匂いを加え、そのため寒さと暖かさという対照的な感覚を助長する。家々が冬に備えて着込む姿を実によく思い描くことができる。

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