The Less Than Mostly Meet the Wind

Powerful winds blew through Shiwa on Sunday, and many a tall tree bore the brunt of their force, which is essentially these trees’ function. Certainly, they beautify the town, and were they not here the leveled valley floor the town occupies would be far less attractive. (Evidence of this can be found in the new housing developments that have foregone trees altogether). But nothing defines Shiwa’s aesthetics more than “function over form,” and the tallest trees in town were planted as windbreaks called “egune.”

The majority of these trees, which have grown for years under the protection of shrines and old families, are cedars, and thus mostly green even in winter. The rest of the branches, “the less than mostly,” turn brown and give the trees a tint like the roots of dyed hair showing. These parts of the trees give under the force of wind, and come raining down on the houses below, leaving people like us a mess to clean up the next day. I’ve come to think of it as a kind of year end cleaning for the trees, a time when trees that can’t shed leaves rid themselves of unnecessary burden and prepare for the coming year.

The least we can do is pick up after them. After all imagine the wind through the flat valley without the trees.

大部分未満、風に出くわす

日曜日に紫波の町中を力強い風が吹き抜け、背の高い多くの木がそのエネルギーの矢面に立ったが、それが元々の役目である。もちろん、町を美化もするが、もしこの木々が無ければ、町が位置するこの均された盆地はずっと魅力の無いものとなったであろう。(その証拠は、こういった木々無しに開発された新しい住宅街にある。)しかし、紫波の美意識は「見た目より機能」を抜きには語れない。そして、町で最も背の高い木々は「えぐね」と呼ばれる防風林として植えられたものだ。

何年も神社や歴史ある家の庇護の下で生長した、これらの木々の多くは杉で、そのため冬でも大部分は青々している。枝の残りの部分、「大部分未満」は茶色に変色し、染めた髪の根元に地毛の色が見えるようだ。この部分は風の力に屈して下方の家に降り注ぎ、僕たちのような住人に翌日の清掃作業を課す。僕は、これを木々の年末の大掃除と見なし始めた。木々にとっても、自分たちでは取り除くことのできない、負担となる不必要な葉を落とし、新年を迎える時期なのだ。

僕たちにできる最低限のことは、その葉を拾うことだ。えぐねのないこの盆地を風が吹き抜けるところを想像してみてほしい。

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