Annie and I went on a walk down to the creek. The clouds are gone and the sun is reflecting off the snow and our house, normally quite dim, has a peculiar glow. It makes my Colgate Kitchen quite gorgeous. Annie doesn’t care for the snow as much as I do, but she’s just a little person. She does love the creek though. It was like a cold wet animal yesterday morning, choked at the mouth with wet leaves and the water trickled over them and flirted its way along the side of the ice.
We took the sled, which, yesterday, amazed me. It’s a beautiful old sled that was Ashley’s, wooden with a delicate painted pattern and thin metal runners. It amazed me because it’s so fast! I’d tried to use it in the snow snow– the fluffy stuff– and of course, it was useless. Without a working knowledge of snow, I’d concluded its value stopped at pretty. This snow is icy, so the sled skims along like a bat out of hell. You have to be really careful. Annie falls off it a lot when I’m not on it with her, and she’s conceived a marked dislike of it. So I strapped her wooden toy crate to it with a couple belts and put a blanket in it for bumps and we brought Gunter too, her black bear, and I pulled her along. She tolerated it for awhile then got angry for some reason. So we had to ditch it because she wanted carrying.
We were over at Iris’s yesterday and Annie fell off a chair and I gave her a tater tot to make things better, and I noticed her nose was bleeding. I asked Iris and Rita (via Skype– which was on– I didn’t skype her just to find out) whether it could have been the tater tot, but they said they didn’t think so. My brother, though, cut himself once quite badly on a potato, and I told this to Rita and Iris.
Rita asked, and this is making me laugh just remembering, “But was it an open potato?” (It wasn’t. That was the surprising thing. It was closed.) We decided that when it comes down to the wire, open potatoes are more dangerous than closed. They’ve got skin edges. Although closed potatoes are twice as heavy and could be used as a mallet.
(It was the butler, in the conservatory, with a closed potato. heh.)
Speaking of people’s animal instincts, has anyone been to the J.Crew warehouse sale in University mall? It’s been going on for awhile now, I suppose, and I’d meant to go look for another sweater for Ashley, since he’s incredibly picky and will only wear one kind, and it costs about fifty dollars. Which means he has to wear each one for two years, till it falls apart. So even though I got him one this year, I thought I’d go look for another. Iris said she’d come along for kicks, which was perfect because most things are better when she’s along.
It was a couple minutes before ten when we got there, and there was already security and a line! They hadn’t opened yet– it’s in the space where the drugstore was– and there were long fold-out tables laden with cardboard boxes, and more underneath. Hundreds of boxes. The ones nearest the door were filled with shoes. Shoes and shoes and shoes. Leather and vinyl and cloth and rubber, stilettos, flats, pumps, strappies, everything., rubberbanded together in pairs. The line of women (there were a couple of men present) slowed crazily at the shoes when they pulled up the gate, a sort of bottleneck effect. They were handing out giant garbage bags at the entrance, and I don’t mean fifty gallon. I mean the big kind. We decided that this is the bald pate of consumerism, without the comb-over of advertising, fancy racks, satin hangers, shopping baskets and impeccable folding. Shopping, stripped down under florescent lights. It was fantastic.
One woman had two bags that she dragged along behind her–wait– I just realized that this is making it sound like I was loftily observing from above: not at all. I was scrabbling with the best of them in the shoe boxes scrawled 7. Iris, on the other hand, was the only individual besides the security guards who wasn’t examining an article of clothing, trying on a shoe, or looking at merchandise in any way. Even Annie was trying on a metallic ballet slipper.
What I liked was seeing peoples’ animal instincts. Iris put it best. She said it was the classic Gatherer vs. Hunter. All the women were so focused. They were gathering, quickly, efficiently, what long ago would have been blueberries and tubers and what is now crewnecks and knitwear. It was an effort to break the gaze from scanning boxes. We found a pink flowered men’s shirt– well, we thought it was a men’s shirt, until we saw the shorts at the bottom, and I wanted Iris to try it on. It was a romper! She started to, but then didn’t because she was worried about people looking. The funny thing was, every gatherer in there was in her own world. (I’m being a little sexist. There were male gatherers as well, though they weren’t nearly as focused.) Iris dared me to start flinging clothes and grunting, but I was too embarrassed. We grunted softly. Of course no one noticed. You’ve got to forcibly drag yourself back to a civilized self. It’s a definite mental shift. That’s why I was so impressed with Iris and her unconcern.
In the end I didn’t find Ashley’s sweater, but I did get a knit sweater in gorgeous lavender and violet shades, and a cardigan and a velvet dress and plaid cigarette pants with stripes down the sides, summoning up a marching band. They look hideous but I like them. Iris, the un-materialistic one, didn’t get anything.
I highly recommend going, if only to see gatherer nature at its finest.