My face is burning as it might do after a summer’s day. Not that it was particularly hot out today, but the persistent sun has combined with the equally persistent biting wind to strip the moisture as surely as if it had been twenty-five or twenty-eight degrees.
This weatherburn is a result of spending almost the entire day outside, at the opening day for a local charity garden. I was tempted to quit after the half day – not least because almost all the volunteer tasks had been done by then – but in the end I was glad for the prior obligation of staffing a stall in the afternoon. K’s away for the weekend, you see, and when she goes away I invariably – and utterly unjustifiably, really – mope a bit. And while the other garden volunteers are hardly my bosom friends (do I even have any these days, I worry at my darkest moments?) socializing with these people has become gradually easier over the years, so that only after a full day of events do all my extrovert fuses finally blow.
It’s the culmination of quite the busy week for me. A few days ago, at around the fundamental size difference between a sickle and a scythe struck me, and maybe why they were different (scythed hay doesn’t need the post-operative gentle treatment that sickled wheat does, and so can be felled at more than arm’s length) I was also flooded with a wave of realization about both the meaning of the fusion of hammer and sickle, and also about the comparative, weird valuelessness, or maybe impermanence of value, inherent in so much of the work we do. So as you can see, I’ve been upskilling rapidly in the fields of pre-industrial agricultural machinery, mid-industrial socialist iconography and post-industrial occupational existentialism.
Some days, though, I do wonder at how rarely computer-based work adds any kind of permanent value to the world. All flesh is as grass, certainly; but an awful lot of programming is as the flowers of the Tradescantia virginia, gone in weeks if not actually that day. On those days, I think about whether or not I should commit more to a life outdoors, to a job worked with my hands. And then I put my back out again, and tell myself not to be quite so silly.
But still. Those wide blue skies. That fine, friable tilth. The tradescantia, neatly divided, replanted and watered, and currently (I can almost feel it) dozing the frosty night away, tripartite in the flower borders, a quarter of a mile from here. The clouds scudding past. The sweat on my brow. The pleasant ache of my arms. The… shooting pains… in my lower spine….