Like tumbleweed in the dust bowl

Once, many, many years ago (or that how it feels), I was a busy, productive soul.  I rose at 5:30 and walked a few kilometers, and/or wrote for an hour and a half before showering and going to work on a cup of coffee and a piece of toast.  I worked at a fairly intense rate all day, stopping only to share a sandwich with Graham late morning, before working like a demon for several more hours and returning home to make supper and finish my day’s work.  Now, the space between my ears resembles the great dust bowls of the American mid-west in the 1930s, and the odd functioing brain cell rolls around the (admittedly small) void like tumbleweed.  Pointlessly.  It snags on small outcrops of concerns and odd ideas.  Mostly when I’m walking the dogs in the mornings.  Or cleaning loos.

Take, for example, mistletoe  – or gui, as it’s called here in France.  It’s all over the place here, and recent high winds brought loads of it to the ground, along with its host branches.  I knew that it’s a parasite.  I was surprised to have a Canadian friend who visited a while ago ask me, “what are those Dr. Seuss trees called?”, only to realise that she was referring to trees inundated by mistletoe (she’s right, a tree infested with mistletoe does indeed look like a tree from The Cat in the Hat).  I had to Google whether it hadn’t managed to invade Canada.  It has.  But I also wondered how it became associated with Christmas, and kissing in particular.  I Googled that, too.    And you know what…..?  I was vexed to find that there’s a huge, yawning gap of knowledge that isn’t even filled with conjecture as to why.  There’s an abundance of information regarding Nordic mythology, and druids regarding the parasitic plant as being good as it fed primarily from oak trees, thus a source of wisdom.  Then, there’s a vast gap of centuries until some Victorian author mentions boys with pieces of mistletoe persuing girls and demanding kisses in a novel   The four-year old in me is still stamping her foot and asking “why????   This means that this was a well-established tradition at the time of writing!”  The best answer I can find is to blame Queen Victoria for it all.

More recent walks have found the ground spangled with Mother Nature’s confetti of prunus and cherry petals.  This also set me to wondering.  This time about the origins of confetti.  Yes, clearly it’s Italian.  In late medieval Milan, the wealthy used to throw sugar-coated seeds during parades and festivals.  Apparently, the lower classes retaliated with flour, dung, or clay balls and the like and things got a bit out of hand, leading to a total ban on the stuff for a century or so.  Later, an enterprising Milanese businessman saw a use for the by-product of bedding produced for silk worms (sort of like hole-punchings) and used it for a festival and it was a roaring success.  Not long after that, the owner of a bar in Paris decided to cut up his New Year’s decorations and throw them during a parade.  The rest, as they say, is history.  But it, too, probably has a longer history that dates back to pagan or Greco-Roman eras whereby rice or other grains were thrown at celebrations as displays of hope for wealth/prosperity/fertility.  Again, there’s no link between ancient and modern history.

So there you go.  That’s what’s left of my brain has been reduced to.  I’ve done some mental hand-wringing about productivity and so on, which led me to research hand-wringing.  Don’t worry, I’ll get my coat!

But I do worry that I no longer accomplish what I once did in  day.  Yes, life has changed.  Of course it has.  I’m happier and healthier than I used to be, by far, and that’s a good thing.  Am I wrong to fret about the fact that I’m a waste of space these days?

8 thoughts on “Like tumbleweed in the dust bowl”

  1. You are so NOT a waste of space – the fact that you actively chase up the answers to your questions is proof of an active and inquisitive mind. And on top of that, I love you and don’t have time at my age to waste love on something not worth it, so there!!

  2. Alex,
    Definitely wrong to fret or even think about being a waste of space. You’re healthy and happy and the sun will hopefully peer through the cloud tomorrow. We just have too much time on our hands and not enough of any consequence to fill it.

  3. Alex,
    You say you’re healthier and happier so just go with the flow. The sun will come out from behind the clouds tomorrow. Life changes as we get older especially if we’ve retired early and the days and weeks can just fly and you suddenly think, where have all the years gone. Make the most of what you have and certainly don’t consider yourself a waste of space. I’ve just read through your list of blogs. They’re delightful! When does the book follow?

  4. Dear Rick

    Thank you for your kind comments. I don’t think of myself as a waste of space, I just wonder about how the space that is “me” has changed (evolved). Clearly, this is what happens to everyone as they progress through life – to do otherwise would to remain infantile (opening myself to a raft of comments from friends here). It is more that I know only too well what I ought to be doing, and the “to do” lists are longer than my arms. The problem is actually finding the motivation to DO something. It’s tax time and here I am checking on who’s reading my blog instead of reconciling my accounts, for goodness sake! I never procrastinated. Busy, busy, busy.
    However, I didn’t get to wondering about the origins of confetti, or steamed up about the fact that there’s no decent history behind the use of mistletoe at Christmas, either!

    I guess that the confoundment is that I’ve transitioned to being a mostly get-my-hands-dirty-practical person from being more of a paper-processor. I’d like to finish one of the projects I’ve embarked upon (3 somewhat-finished novels gathering dust in a hard-drive, and a non-fiction work in the researching, and a new website to build for the house). But I don’t….. I decide that the dogs need a walk, or the shower needs re-grouting instead, or that the entry-way needs steam-cleaning! You know what I mean?

    Thanks for taking the time to read, and comment.


  5. I’m with you all the way Alex. I’d be checking my blog and putting off reconciling accounts and filling in tax returns. I can’t think of anything more onerous, especially French tax returns. Give me a trawl through the internet on anything and I can waste weeks! I seriously thought you were falling apart for a minute but then I noticed your blog was posted on 1st April!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *