Planting a Stake (Other) by Alizarin_Crimson
<This is a Lyrical Essay>
âLennie said quietly, âIt ainât no lie. Weâre gonna do it.
Gonna get a little place anâ live on the fatta the lanâ.â From
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
I could be an alpaca rancher, out in the country (there's still some
left, you know). Maybe in Oregon, Montana. It's a completely viable way
to make a living.
I can totally see it: a little house, a yard, and a fieldâa modest
operation. Iâll keep five or six of those jaunty ragamuffins, and
shear them every spring. I'll feed them large bales of alfalfa hay, the
kind you can buy right off the truck in some regions, freshly packed,
with its glorious dried green odor. Then I'll cover my own food pyramid
with chickens, corn, and fruit trees. Iâd fancy a couple of sly
whiskered cats as well, to keep out the mice and laze around with me in
the hammock. Iâll have an old pick-up truck, solely for the purpose
of âgoing into townâ for things. Every morning, I'll get up early
to catch the sunrise, stepping out into air so fresh you could cut it
into pieces and sell them off as "slices of heaven."
My clothes will be drying outside on the line, while I'm in the
kitchen squeezing lemonade, keeping out The Man with an electric fence.
Bee keepingâs a solid way to go, in fact, in some states itâs
subsidized by the government.
We as humans, can only do so much; our talents stop and we employ, we
outsource. Now, imagine a creature whose very existenceâwhose every
natural inclinationâis considered a pure commodity. The honeybee,
like a superior machine, procures pollen for the greater good of the
hive; simultaneously, he brings life to the flowers, fruit to our tables,
and honey, that treasure which we scrape off their chambered palaces.
Guilt is unnecessary; the bee has nothing in life but the want to do it
all over again. The design is perfect.
Our most precious commodity is time.
Thereâs a lot of money in coffee. Next to crude oil, itâs the
highest grossing resource on the planet. Makes sense. Cars need fuel
to run, and so do we apparently, although I always thought of our â
fuelâ as being food, or love maybe. Starbuckâs disagrees. Again,
weâre not like the bees with their built-in work ethic.
Itâs all about extraction: how to wring the stuff right out of the
bean, and get it into liquid form. In other words, if you brew it, they
will come. I enjoy the ambiance of coffee houses and cafes just as much
as the next person. Their worldwide popularity, I believe, stems from
the fact that they offer nothing substantial, save for a great steaming
excuse to STOP. Itâs about pausing; refueling. Maybe I could sign up,
jump on the bean-wagon, and become a distributor.
Whatâs amazing is the way that it has inundated our daily routines,
our language; a semiotic conduit for human understanding. Dramatically,
we shake in front of passing acquaintances, explaining our run-down
state of affairs as a result of skipping our morning dosage. Beneath
these poses, we wriggle under the foot of something entirely more
imminent; something that has not yet come to fruition. Subconsciously,
the weight of it pulls us in further, closer to the bottom of the cup, a
temporary substitute for the actual grail.
âChance is always powerful. Let your hook always be cast; in the pool
where you least expect it, there will be fish.â -Ovid
The average per-capita amount of swimming pools in Los Angeles County
is .367 per person, or roughly one for every three people. And thatâs
just L.A.âwhen you figure in all of southern California, thatâs a
lot of subterranean investing.
It doesnât really matter what you do, anyway, you just have to do it.
Take my Auntâs pool guy, for instance.
Broke and hung over. Feeling tender under the afternoon glare, like a
boiled sponge, he sank into the shallow-end at the Ramada Inn. As he
belched, he happened to catch his reflection: a nasty, leathered
complexion, a greasy patch of blonde hair that was quickly drying up.
He whisked away the image with his finger tipsâ¦if only it were that
easy to change reality. His movements created a rippling that reached
out to the edges, then came back to him, alone and wrecked upon a
telescoping shore of isolation.
All he could distill from his booze-wilted consciousness was a
twisting desire to feel clean again. Clean.
Heâd like to stay in that pool forever until death, pocketed safely
below the glassy surface. Then something splashed down at the deep end,
shattering his concentration into hundreds of tiny-peaked waves. There
stood his savior: an angel of maintenance, purging the waters with a
long, graceful stroke. Clarity flooded his parched sanctity; an
encouraging audience of fractured sunlight danced on the tiles below him.
Days later, he bought $500 worth of equipment, stuck it in the back of
his truck, and started cleaning pools. He was paying off debts by the
first four months; after four years, he had his own business.
Homeowners plant their stakes firmly in the Western soil, putting in
pools put at the apex of their success, then leaving them there to do
nothing but grow algae and collect leaves. All those people having
their dreams dug out of earth, shrines to their economic vitality, new
clients every week.
He kept those dreams properly chlorinated, filtered; scrubbed their
sides when necessary. Day after day, out there in cut-off shorts, on
long afternoons testing the pH levels of a teal thumbprint in Pasadena.
Time was passing by him, like leaves drifting towards an unclogged
filter. Sometimes, as he gazed into yet another private âOasis,â he
thought heâd reached some kind of enlightenment. In that reflection,
the invisible space between the water and the sky, he saw the mortality
of all material things; the face of time. He felt then, that he was a
part of something else; like a droplet in the atmosphere, slowly and
inadvertently rising towards a storm.
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