This week I took a picnic lunch off to a park area where I chose to plant myself on a spot on the ground near a nice lookout point rather than at an otherwise convenient picnic table. I had a picnic mat with me, and the view was so welcoming I didn’t think twice of walking away from the picnic area.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had thought that the lookout was a nice place - the grass has been completely torn up at the best vantage point and all that was left was a fine, powdery dust.
Oh, my - dust.
As the little poofs and clouds engulfed my feet and coated the bottom of my mat, I was instantly taken back to a life in which dust was a daily enemy. After I’d arranged my food carefully so as to avoid contact with the ground or anything attached to the ground, I paused and said a small pray of thanks for cleanliness.
How easily we take for granted one of the major differences between here and there. Here is so very clean. Even as we struggle against the common foes of mud, dirt, wet, pet hair, dust on the bookshelves, blood, sweat and tears - we have a whole range of weapons at our fingertips. There’s the obvious ones of lots of soap and water. Hot water. Right out of a faucet right in our house, indeed, in several rooms of our house. Who couldn’t stay clean when all you need to do is turn around to wash your hands?
Then there is the greatest weapon of all: structures that minimize our contact with the outside world. Our houses, offices, schools, businesses, especially here where the climate requires several months of the year seclusion from the cold, are buffer zones to anything that threatens to smudge. We’ve created entire “clean zones” where any dust or dirt that does dare invade through the most subversive of means are tracked down, sucked, swept or sprayed and made to cower under the power of abrasive and anti-microbial cleansing agents.
The result of having mopped floors and sealed pavement wherever our feet might pass and climate controlled air in the buildings where I meet people is that I haven’t spent the last six months harboring a constant feeling of sweaty filthiness that had become such a constant part of my life. I’m CLEAN!
And then I dropped a big glob of sauce on my pants.
Alas, there are some things they never will be able to protect me from.