Pestilences

pestilences
" … the bitter savory back-taste of the otherwise Home Sweet Home."

Homes tend to attract pestilences; not necessarily the full-blown Old Testament kind, but pestilences nonetheless. They might share a common root cause, though: staying in one place. The Hunter-Gatherer could pick up and leave their latest pestilence behind by just moving on to another place, but homes stay put. Staying put means that FindingHome entails accepting the minor and occasionally major visitations wrought upon the place. I'm currently, for instance, wrestling with the annual Springtime appearance of moss invading what passes for my back lawn. If I were a Hunter-Gatherer, I could shrug disinterestedly and just move on, but having found my home here, I feel compelled to pull out the heavy old garden rake and scrape up and dispose of the stuff, then spray on this iron-based treatment which is supposed to kill any remaining moss and prevent further intrusion, but doesn't. I'll be back at it again a year from now.

Over time, a backlog of pestilence grows.
Most of these seem to be more eternally unresolvable than easily dispatch-able. The homeowner learns to live with them, accepting them as a part of the overall homeownership deal, the bitter savory back-taste of the otherwise Home Sweet Home. Every homeowner fears the dreaded black mold, an insidious intrusion as difficult to identify as eradicate. In our four short years here, we've experienced a major hailstorm which shredded our heavy-duty almost new roof and pock-marked about half of the exterior paint. We've been laboring nearly two years trying to repair the resulting damage, with only a section of the exterior wall still waiting for fresh paint. The garage spends half of each year bloated with empty flower pots and stored hoses, equipment that should be out adorning the property but must instead cower through the cold months lest the subfreezing pestilences leave them cracked and useless.

For about a quarter of my life, I lived more of a hunter-gatherer's existence. My work kept me on the move and I needed little more than a tent-like apartment or rented room to call my home. Pestilences visited me there, too, but help hovered just a phone call to the property manager away. We once returned to rented digs to find the basement filling up with crunchy little caterpillars, a visitation truly worthy of some recalcitrant pharaoh. A vengeful air conditioning god was ultimately blamed, though I drew the assignment of vacuuming up all the crunchy carcasses. When I was a hunter-gatherer, I pined after a garden. I'd find myself weeding public planters, warmly recalling what I'd once considered a sort of sentence when tasked with cleaning up the Old Home Place's extensive flower beds. I've weeded in Kew Garden, Vienna, Paris, and in Rome, gaining neither any credit nor notoriety. I felt every bit a hunter-gatherer farmer, a fundamental contradiction.

Colonizer farmers hated the hunter-gatherers they encountered. They seemed to flout the first principles necessary for living the good and righteous life. Colonizers sought land and believed that they could and should own that land, and that they should husband that property like a jealous spouse. The hunter-gatherers employed the land without owning it or becoming slaves to it, which apparently irked the colonizers. To the colonizer's eye, hunter-gatherers seemed like slackers because they did not keep regular business hours, no rising before the sun and laboring beyond sunset for them. A half-decent hunter-gatherer could meet their needs working a few scant hours each week, with ample guilt-free time for hanging around smoking with the guys. No hunter-gatherer ever engaged in my annual battle with the recurring moss pestilence or wasted a single sleepless night fussing over the likelihood that black mold had invaded the upstairs bathroom. They carried no property manager's emergency phone number, and didn't need to because the property they inhabited wasn't so dependent upon their husbandry. I think the colonizers were jealous, as any self-respecting homeowner might occasionally feel jealous of their footloose condo-dwelling brethren.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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