blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


A few years ago I kept noticing around town an advertisement for the courses offered at a local college. Quelle est ta passion? said the poster and underneath was the photo of a young person in a white lab. coat, beaming with enthusiasm, and the caption ... hygiène dentaire! Funny thing to be passionate about, I thought, but who am I to judge? More recently I briefly met my mother's "Toenail Man" who earns a living trimming the nails of the old ladies and gentlemen in and around Cardiff. He must be an enthusiast for his work as well; I'm not sure how he could put up with it otherwise.

I've been reading a book lent to me by Elva about the people who plant seedling trees in the clear-cuts of British Columbia and other Canadian provinces: it's called Eating Dirt and its author, Charlotte Gill, has been one of the planter community for 17 years, so knows what she's talking about. She writes in a style that makes for compulsive reading:
We find spots, and we stab as if to wound them, throwing our weight behind our shovels. If we’re lucky our blades penetrate slickly, as knives slide into melon. If not, we’ve got roots, rock, wood, grass—barriers to chip at with the blades of our shovels in search of elusive earth. We dig around in our left-hand bags and come out with the trees, one by one by one.
I push into my shovel as if it were a heavy door. A square of earth breaks open at my feet and sighs a moldy breath. I bend at the waist and slide the roots down the back of my spade. My job is to find these trees new one-hundred-year homes, though I seldom think of it that way. Douglas-firs with slick, wet needles, twigs dressed in green whiskers. I tuck them in with a punch of my fist. I haven’t stood up and I’m already walking. Bend. Plant. Stand up. Move on. The work is simply this, multiplied by a thousand, two thousand, or more. Twenty-five cents a tree.
Goodbye, little bastard. Have a nice life.
Not only does the book describe the gritty character and tribulations of her fellow planters, it's also very informative about the forests themselves. I hadn't realised, for example, that two-thirds of the carbon dioxide in forests is stored in the forest floor, not in the trees themselves.

And now I'm reading "The True Story Of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost At Sea" by Donovan Hohn, an American teacher of English literature who got so fixated by the quest to salvage plastic litter from the Pacific Ocean, in particular the bath toys lost from a Chinese freighter in a storm south of the Aleutian Islands in 1992, that he journeyed to the remote parts of Alaska and the Canadian Arctic and Hawaii researching the evidence and published 400 pages about it:
The next thing you know years have passed and you're still adrift, still waiting to see where the questions take you. At least that's what happens if you're a nearsighted, school-teaching, would-be archaeologist of the ordinary, with an indulgent, long-suffering wife and a juvenile imagination ...
He calls his book Moby Duck, an inspired title! My sister-in-law-in-law––is there another word for the wife of my husband's brother? I bet there is in Chinese––sent it to us.

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