Sunday, March 1, 2009

romance and the town dump. R/1

I am back on the way to my mythical vines to work. Or should I say ‘watch the workers’. I know I said I wouldn’t make up any more stories, but I can’t just go on and forget the romance. I would have to leave out what happened on the road between Rabieux and St Jean today. It was some minutes just before nine o’clock.

At this time of the year the sun has just begun to crest the small hills on the east of the valley that this road runs through. Two weeks ago in this area, at this hour of the day, the sun was still firmly behind the hills. It’s always a pretty road to drive but this morning it was like a well lit dream. The landscape was highlighted here and there, where it could catch the new days rays, with a fresh yellow, almost golden light. In the little hollows the hoar frost was turning from white to glistening, just before it disappeared. The sky was the profound blue color it can be here.

There was one perfectly crowned almond tree in full, white petaled flower. Just the top half of it was catching the light. The tree sits at the end of a small parcel full of just pruned vines. The souche, all trimmed and orderly are like lines of gnarled dead soldiers. The vines like the trunk of the tree had yet to be touched by the light of the gold ball that was rising in the east. They both gave off a look of black, solid, dormant. All the more because of the immaterial and shimmering whiteness of the flowers that seemed to float in the sun rays just above them.

Moments like that make me feel romantic, whatever the case may be with ex-wives and specious incomes. It’s chance to come across them. That in itself engenders its own waves of love, regardless of the spectator and their regard. If by hazard, chance and a regard coincide... well, like Frank Sinatra says, it’s magic baby.

On my way to watch the workers I had to stop at the town dump. La dechetterie as they call it here. It was the one in the little town where I used to live. You know the cute little village in the South of France. Full of flowers and romance and old rock houses. Well just outside the town walls is the dump for all the refuse that this cute little town produces.

It’s a practical system. Over sized garbage, old furniture, old dead objects dragged from caves and greniers are all thrown over the hill just at the edge of town. It’s like a do it yourself land fill, or at least it was when I moved here, or there, if we are talking in a more specific case.

In the old system there was a vague mode of triage for the various types of garbage, but basically it was a throw it over the edge type of affair. Usually anything that might have some use to someone else was left aside to be picked over, and once a month or so a bulldozer would come and push everything flat, slowly filling in the ravine. It was always open and had functioned in more or less the same fashion since the town was built in the 12th century.

Needless to say not long after we got there the system changed. I don’t know if it is me, or just my epoch but once I get somewhere, whether it is Wicker Park in Chicago, or St Jean de la Blaquiere in France, the place changes not long after I get there. The thing that sucks about that is that it always seems to be changing for the worse. Worse in the sense of being less convenient, less fun, and more expensive.

I mean it may not be ecologically sound to crash a 1970’s epoch giant television into a rock filled ravine, but it sure was fun when my son and I did it back in the olden days of six years ago. The new system probably isn’t any more ecological when you account for all the carting around of containers, but it surely is more expensive and less fun.

Nowadays the dump is all fenced in. There is a surveillant there at all times when it is open, which is a total of thirty five hours a week. Everything is sorted into containers and he stands there and watches you to make sure you dump your things into the proper container. Metal, cardboard, biodegradable, construction debris, paints and hazardous materials. He is reluctant to let you go through the discards in the containers. It’s all clean and safe.

I often wonder how you go about getting a job like that. I mean basically you sit in a little mobile home all day and on occasion watch people throw out their garbage. When I asked, the guy was vague. I pried a bit more and it was like I figured, you really need to have a relative or other firm connection in the departmental offices where those jobs originate. I realized that’s one of the problems with be a foreigner, you no have connection anywhere.

I said so long to the garbage guard and got back in my car, I was running late for my mythical job in the vines. As I started up the car, one of the containers went rumbling by on the back of a big truck. I saw an old metal shelving unit sticking out of the container. It would have been perfect for the studio in the back of the garden where I live.

Instead it was being carted off to the smelter and perhaps a slow boat to china where it will be recast as something new and shiny then shipped somewhere in the world and sold. The idea of that seemed silly at best, lunatic at worse, and in either case less romantic than the discarded shelving unit coinciding with my regard and being reanimated in a little garden atelier in the south of France.

But it’s all part of the new world order of global motion. They say it’s better for all of us, but I miss the old order that included a town dump of trash and treasure and tumbling televisions. It just seemed less predictable, full of chance and in general a lot more fun and a bit more romantic. You know that’s how I like it.

The road running out of the dechetterie is small and windy, and now I was stuck behind the truck. If I had had a real job, with a real starting time I would have been late. It’s lucky for me that my vigneron is the kind of boss that doesn’t worry about that type of thing. At least he doesn't in my version of how things are.

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