Friday, April 18, 2014

A moment's peace

Welcome to Day 18 of National Poetry Month. Once again our snow cover is disappearing. Flocks of frantic birds will find it easier to find sustenance without a foot of snow perched on their universe.

birds at snow-covered feeder
birds at snow-covered feeder   © harrington

Solid (snow and ice) will turn to liquid, maybe even evaporate as gas, if it gets warm enough, and most will seep into the ground or flow overland. That takes care of earth, air, and water, being driven by the fire of the sun. Four basic elements, at least three of which would also be involved with drying clothes on a clothesline. But, using a clothesline would require measurably more time than the few seconds it takes now to move clean clothes from the washer to the dryer next to it. It would mean lugging a basket full of clothes outside, pinning them to the line, hoping it doesn't rain or that the traffic on the township road doesn't kick up too much dust, going back and taking down the dry clothes and bringing them into the house. Folding would be the same whether air dried or dryer dried. Somehow I've been convinced that the convenience of using a clothes dryer is preferable to spending a few moments in the sunshine, listening to the birds while I hang clothes. If we put the line near the (to be created) hummingbird/butterfly garden, the environment for the launderer would be a major improvement over the laundry room. Even without a garden, the yard is a major improvement over the laundry room's environment. So why am I willing to continue to trade the convenience of a clothes dryer for the pleasure of a few moments in the sun and fresh air, with the added benefit of reducing my carbon footprint? I suppose, this being 21st century America, I've been convinced by appliance makers and sellers, by utilities, by the advertising industry they employ, and by most media outlets, that saving time by using "labor saving" conveniences lets me do more with my life, such as watching more commercials on TV or the Internet. I'm slowly starting to wise up to the idea that more rarely improves the quality of my life. More is often the cry of the addicted/addictive personality (if there is such a personality). Maybe Less truly is More.

Watching the St. Croix River flow
Watching the St. Croix River flow             © harrington

Much of this thinking was retriggered a week or so ago when I took a few moments to sit on the bank and watch the St. Croix river flow. No noise except bird calls and the gently riff of flowing water. No sense of "there are six other things I should be doing." That's becoming one of the better reasons I can think of to create the clothesline and the garden. I may have my moments of dumb, but I'm trying hard to outgrow being willfully perverse. In County Lines, David Pichaske (Yellow Medicine County), with an assist from CSN&Y, reminds us of the importance of what we teach our children, including how to spend our time.

David Pichaske


Teach Your Children Well


"and feed them on your dreams"
—Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young


Can tell you only what I have come to know:
clean, black cut of new-paved road
(always north and always uphill)
flanked by yellow beans and khaki corn;
behind, hollow moon dragging her sullen face
toward dark tangle of the Yellow Medicine River
(cottonwood, deer, fox, and pheasant);
ahead, flame of northern lights, aurora borealis,
and, always, firm distance of the pole star.

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