On the way back from my morning run yesterday, almost to the house, dirt that had been sprinkled from a snowplow on fresh snow caught my eye. I hadn’t noticed it on the way out. But now the sun was on it. Snow crystals were catching the light and the contrast of the matte brownness was striking against it. How odd, this switch, a diamond backdrop to play up dirt. And especially how odd since I’m at war with dirt.
Dirt is the enemy. It finds its way into the house on the bottoms of careless or oblivious feet. Feet that have time only for the utility of life, not the fussiness of it. Dirt goes everywhere the feet go. It tramps across the kitchen floor to the table and falls off under the chair. It sifts itself down the hall and deposits bits of itself in the bathroom. It leaves a trail that divides the dining room in two. Sweeping, then mopping, doesn’t get it all. It’s insidious. It finds its way into crevices and reveals itself there later, usually inopportunely. It pollutes an environment that in dreams is pristine. Just knowing that it’s always there mars interior life. It haunts with dust if not openly rebelling with slashes of mud and grit. It exemplifies futility. It gets on bare feet, on hands, it colors in blotches, mixes with moisture and oils, becomes tacky, spreads plague-like. It gets on clothes, makes its dark marks, labels us soiled. And eyes can’t avoid it. They snap straight to it like to a scarlet letter, relinquishing everything else.
Sweeping, then mopping, is powerless to stop it coming in from the outside, from wherever the earth is torn up or laid bare. But when snow falls, covering the vastness of a ravaged terrain, the expanse is made lovely—soft and sequined. Packed, it’s a joy to run on, absorbing heel strikes better than anything. Loose, it’s one of the most romanticized visions—a landscape frosted with gemstones. Imagine my surprise when I found out the water droplets that form ice crystals that in turn form snowflakes are pure water and can’t freeze by themselves until they stick to a dust particle. Instead of making me feel better about dirt, I felt more of a sense of futility in regard to the war against dirt.
There’s no escaping dirt. Snow starts with dirt. The earth is in part made up of dirt. Life is sustained from dirt. Then Earth is the enemy? I guess it must be on some level, dependent on how much life is valued.
How is snow made? http://www.faqkids.com/idx/4/082/article/How_is_snow_made.html
How do snowflakes form? http://www.pa.msu.edu/sciencet/ask_st/100897.html
[Dirt] gets on clothes, makes its black marks, labels us soiled. And eyes cannot avoid it. They snap straight to it like to a scarlet letter, relinquishing everything else. They always find first whatever’s wrong in a picture. They can sweep a person from head to toe in an instant, discover a finger is missing, and ever after can look at nothing else but the place where a finger should be. Primitive instincts. The strong has just singled out the weak. Existence is full of real and imagined, silly and substantial invasions that offend and wound. No one thing can be labeled the enemy, and too many things labeled as such makes the earth feel inhabitable.
When snow covers the dirt and ugliness of a ravaged terrain, the terrain becomes lovely—soft and sequined. But snow falls randomly, when conditions are right for it to be formed, and it stays on the ground as long as conditions remain right for it to stay. When it goes away, it leaves behind more ugliness than was there before it came—grey slush, mud, and salt that gets on cars and feet and goes into houses.
Love, like snow, covers a multitude of sins. But what is love really? Is it a thing that’s strong and steady, that lies beneath and regardless of the random and conditional thing we most often demonstrate as being love? Is love the thing that leaves financial smudges and dirt piles of psychological damage behind it? Or is it more like the thread that weaves daily through magazine and news stories that touch us all in the same place and leave us with a feeling of hope and connectedness?