Trimming Spring and Sipping Crimson

by Lennox V. Farrell

Again, Joan was harassing me. We're spouses. Spice-mates. Married, thirty-something years. She enjoys what she does.

I know when I'm being harassed. I become overwrought with thoughts so widely disparate, spontaneous and ubiquitous as to deny reasonable description, perspicacity and understanding.

"Look," she exclaimed, arms expansively uplifted like thunderclouds, "the whole neighbourhood already start to clean up."

I glanced.

She can be so unfair. She can be so right. Indeed the whole neighbourhood had had lawns trimmed, hedges manicured and the men-folk stationed dutifully out front. Eyeing each other's bushes!

Many harassed men congregate on my street.

How, too, to explain to Joan, why, after the hedges had hibernated all winter long, waiting for one wee chance to bud and bloom, I felt so badly cropping them so early in late spring.

I hate castrated lawns. I despise them, utterly. In Heaven, I am convinced, there will not be any lawns, trimmed! Twenty-one carat pavements, yes. Or St. Midas can count me out. Again!

It is for me an auto da fe, an "article of faith" that trees, leaves, lawns and hedges have rights. They should have human rights, except these stink so much nowadays, and have become so industrialized that no true tree-hugger would reduce trees to such.

Trees should be allowed time to bask in some heat, for summer, up to mid-August; later even before genuflecting, one leaf, one twig at a time, to the blade.

How could I explain such deeply held sentiments to the love of my life? She's a wise type of soul. I strive, she says, to be otherwise.

So, I do what the tough do when our sensitive natures are hurting. I go looking for legitimate pain. I take long walks. In tight brogues.

It must have been the caterpillar on my way back that took my thoughts wide. There before me was the beastie, as small as a cafetaria french fry, flowing purposefully over the paved pathway in the broiling midday sun. Undulating under my uplifted leather soles like a tiny, yellow-and-black, spiked river - without banks. Or trees.

I thought. One thought led to another. For example, would the Creator deem it murder if I mashed this monster? I thought, too, of other things. One of these was the pro-choice movement; another, the anti-abortion, pro-life movement.

I so hate clipping lawns. This is no joke. I just do.

It was my mother who once gave me prudent advice (and which, generously, I now lend you), that rather than argue with a wife, wiser men walk. That's it! My following this advice explains my jack-ass stamina. If not my bovine girth.

Without digressing too far from this path, I am known to walk quite a ways from my home in the very heart of North York, way past down-town Toronto, even into the very bosom of Lake Ontario - and back.

Once I went all the way from Jane-Finch, where our lawn flourisheth, to the very township of Bolton. It is west of all points. A cozy kind of crossing where the men look as robust as mercenaries, surrounded up to their belly-buttons by uncut lawns. Bolton is also, "Home of the Binder Twine". Maybe all that grass eventually plaited into rope.

Boltonians also serve scoops of icecream worth walking forty kilometres, one painful step at a time, for.

Anyway, Joan can't figure out why I go walking so much; so far. Sometimes so far that on this particular occasion I had to crawl up a gravel driveway pleading for the use of an urgent washroom. And a phone with a long cord, please.

The Boltonians must have noticed how snug were my shoes and how huge my feet. Repeatedly, they tried to persuade Joan's laconic ears as to where I could be retrieved. Even who I was, too. I'd been gone awhile!

She arrived - some two days later. It's all a joke, Joan, really!

Still thinking -and I'm back to this caterpillar, held under my heel- of the pro-life and pro-choice groups, I realized that I am quite appreciative that my parents were, well, pro-life. Mom, through our father, pro-lifed approximately nine of us.

In fact, when one concerned priest asked him about Mom's "perennials", Dad, speaking in patois and involving God by way of explanation, would only conclude, "Ce Deus, Ce Deus."

Ours was, nevertheless, considered a smallish family. By comparison, Joan's family, a little biggish had sixteen, plus. Pupa, her dad, passed contentedly more than two decades before Muma.

Muma never re-married!

Now, here I was on this fine, spring, lucky-for-caterpillars day, also reflecting on God. Thinking about injustices. Like those exploited with growing coffee.

I thought about the number of children who annually die to ensure that both groups: pro-lifers and pro-choicers get their morning fixes. And slake their addictions.

I bet you didn't know that Canadians drink three million cups of coffee, daily?

That MacDonald's serves up one billion cups? Daily!

Do you know how much land: choice, hillside land -like Baby Bear's porridge, not too warm, nor too cool- is required to export one billion cups of Blue Mountain coffee? Daily!?

Am I only talking about cutting lawns and growing tree things? Are you crazy?

Could you not recognize that all this time I've been raging about Baal? That ancient Canaanite perversity to whom babies were sacrificed? Today, they are sacrificed on the transnational alters of cash crops like coffee?

Talking in particular about coffee, did you know that a good coffee shrub, one truly bounteous and luxuriant bears twice a year? That each bearing from these man-high, mauve-greens will carry to term about three pounds of apple-red, orange-yellow beans.

After being plucked, winnowed and weaned, their weight will shrivel, inconsiderately down, to about one pound. When you purchase this pound, it means that you will be bringing home to your family, one-half of one year's bearing from the best of coffee bushes under cultivation on this planet?

And I am not even including here, other cash crops consumed relentlessly: chocolate, rice, sugar, cashew nuts, pineapples ... all the goods on which we stuff, and which leave poverty-stricken "banana republics".

Given the numbers of children who come to full term in 3rd world countries, but whose tiny bones are subsequently unpeeled from inside banana skins, and whose blood is served, steaming in coffee cups, a pro-life supporter like me has to conclude that though born and grown under coffee, I am now in reality, pro-North American (and thereby mostly white) children's lives.

Yes, that's it. Those other 3rd world children are sacrificed in the vast maw of our consumption. But who in Hell cares? Not we, who confuse cornering 'a preserved living for ourselves with creating the good life with others'. And not those who loll on location in places like Coffee Times, sipping second cups? Planning strategy - pro and con?

Conclusion? 3rd world children are the wrong colour.

Solution? Make every child either North American and preserve its life before, during, and after birth. Or make them all 3rd world and perish the whole human race.

Like I said beginning, when harassed I think incisively about broadguaged matters.

I should just clip the lawn, and sit in stoic ignorance sipping cold beverages, watching the green grass grow.

Just you wait till next year. Again!

Trimming Spring and Sipping Crimson by Lennox V. Farrell

© Copyright 1999. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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