Monday, July 29, 2013

Just Enough

Photo courtesy Flickr

Azby Brown published a book of that title about lessons in living green from traditional Japan. The cover suggests contents with the usual shallow avalanche of eye candy, but page three of this Tuttle title reveals deep scholarship, a passionate commitment to sustainability, and charming graphics that appear to be from the author’s own hand.

There are at least a dozen blogs in this book, and I’m only on Chapter Two. Revelation the first is the history of the engawa, the sleeping room in a traditional Japanese farmhouse. The space was originally a small room with a wooden floor and a deep sill across the door. The space was filled with hay, and the family slept together in their daytime work clothes huddled together for what warmth the hay could provide.

European castles had a similar arrangement for the fighting men on their staffs: a wooden box on wheels was filled with hay and a dozen or so troops would sleep in it. Presumably the wheels made it easy to support field missions. The photograph I saw showed the wagon parked under a medieval roof of some kind. 

The most memorable nap of my childhood was taken burrowed into a pile of maple leaves under a glowing October sun.

We take a lot for granted. Tacoma’s Fort Nisqually restoration displays a pallet of blankets inside the base of the defensive blockhouse surrounded by a perimeter of sharpened logs. One of the troops slept there, and I have no doubt he was glad to sleep out of the rain.

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