Essay: Ode to my hometown

I regularly drive across the Swiss border from Ferney-Voltaire in France.  Rather than taking the national route connecting my town with Geneva, I prefer to take the back road through fields to avoid heavy traffic.

On both sides of the road, wheat, rapeseed, corn, and sunflower grow, depending on the season.  When rapeseed or sunflower is in full bloom, these fields burst into brilliant colors, uplifting my spirit.  The bright colors provide me some moments of entertainment before reaching Geneva or home.

However, what I find most soothing are the lush green wheat fields.  When small wheat seedlings gradually grow taller, the whole area looks as if it were covered with a thick green carpet, calling to mind the Japanese rural scenery of rice fields so familiar to me.  When driving through the lush greenery, I cannot help thinking of Kanazu in Fukui prefecture where I was born, about one hour northeast by train from the ancient city of Kyoto.

One obvious difference between wheat fields here and rice fields in Japan is that the former are dry ones while the latter are filled with water, at least when seedlings and ears are growing.  Whether they are dry or wet, both fields offer us lush greenery so gentle and soothing to our eyes.  They also provide us with main stable food in respective parts of the world, wheat in Europe and rice in Japan.  When the wheat fields turn golden, harvest time is around the corner.  These fields of France and Switzerland are also like another harvest season in rice fields back home.

I left my hometown more than 45 years ago, and its name “Kanazu” no longer exists on the map as it was consolidated with another town and became the city of Awara several years ago.  Nevertheless, the green carpet-like scenery that was familiar to me during my childhood has always remained deep in my heart as the image of my hometown no matter where I have lived in the world.  When I feel tired or lonely, that image gently embraces me and uplifts my spirit.  I am lucky to have such a home, even only in my mind now, since it always provides me with emotional support.

With economic development, my natal town has changed over the years as a number of new factories are now operating in a certain section of the city.  Nevertheless, the lush greenery of rice fields is still there and I earnestly hope that it will remain the gentle cradle it has been for all of us, for those who continue to live there as well as for the natives of Kanazu who now live elsewhere. (from Offshoots 11: Writing from Geneva, by Geneva Writers’ Group (Sept. 2011, pp. 115-116)

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