Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Outdoor update

At this time of the year, I'm delighted to devote my days to a mixture of three quite different activities: (1) outdoor tasks, such as erecting my rose pergola; (2) computer-based work, such as finishing the French version of my Rilke movie script and pursuing my genealogical research; and (3) watching the Tour de France on TV.

Concerning the future pergola, I'm aware that I'm not exactly breaking any construction-speed records. But I like to savor this kind of job. One of the three basic U-shaped structures is now solidly fixed in the earth by concrete... but I prefer, for the moment, to leave the supporting posts and struts in place. The next step will consist of erecting a similar structure (which is already bolted together, and waiting to be raised) on the left-hand side of the photo. Yesterday afternoon, at about the time that the cyclists were approaching the finishing line, I decided to start digging a pair of holes at places that seemed to be more or less correct. That's to say, instead of measuring things, I took the liberty of using visual guesswork. Well, this morning, when I took a closer look at yesterday's holes, and measured their locations carefully, I was alarmed to discover that visual guesswork of this kind simply doesn't work for me. I was ashamed to discover that my holes were about 25 cm to the right of their correct locations! No great problem: I simply enlarged the holes so that the posts would be positioned correctly.

I was truly amazed, retrospectively, that my visual guesswork could be so hugely off the mark. To be honest, I don't think it's age catching up with my perceptive faculties. I believe that, as far as spatial contexts are concerned, I've always been out of my depth (a nice metaphor). When my son, who's an excellent billiards player, tells me that he's capable of conceptualizing a spatial context in such a way that he knows exactly how and where to hit the ball, I'm most impressed. Maybe it was a waste of resources for God to put me in a three-dimensional world. He could just as well have created me in a flat two-dimensional world, and I probably wouldn't have felt I was missing out on anything. Besides, I wouldn't have ever been anguished by vertigo.

A few years ago, when I planted a little plum tree beneath my bedroom window, I wasn't certain that it would ever grow and bear fruit. Well, this morning, I noticed with joy that the miracle has happened.

Further to the south, the pair of fig trees that Natacha and Alain gave me are thriving, and there might even be a few tiny fruit by the end of summer.

Last night's TV news praised a town in Alsace that has decided to prohibit chemical insecticides and weedkillers, to avoid polluting the groundwater. The municipality in question has decided to promote the novel idea that weeds, to a certain extent, are beautiful. Citizens are being told that it's silly to live in a universe of cropped lawns and smooth green parks and prairies. A few weeds and wildflowers never hurt anybody. On the contrary. It goes without saying that, here at Gamone, I've always been in favor of that kind of thinking.

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