|We drove toward and right into a low-lying cloud|
They were lighting on the ground too far from us to be seen. Still, the dancing wind, beautiful sky, golden grasses, distant mountains, and the unusual sight of an expanse of water at our feet lifted our spirits.
A later, more thorough, search turned up additional makings: odd tattered pages, lines in yellowed notebooks, scraps. Other parts, evidently once in existence, seem irrevocably lost.
Days were dim and short. Snow lay on the earth continually—blinding white at noon, yellow and old at dusk, ghost white at night. Life ceased beyond the kitchen. In the circle of warmth around the stove, everything moved and revolved. Distance was enormously magnified by the cold. Far and far it seemed to the woodpile; to the henhouse, where the hens gathered in drooping ovals of dejection, their cheeps coming out in little frozen spears; to the stable, where the sweet rotting smell of hay and the great cloud of warmth from the cow stained the air. They scarcely moved from the stove.
Breathe and breathe, Andy, turn your eyes to the stars. Their beauty, never known before, pricks like tears. You belong to a starless night now, unimaginably black, without light, like death. Perhaps the sweat glistening on the roof rock seen for an instant will seem like stars.
And no more can you stand erect. You lose that heritage of man, too. You are brought now to fit earth’s intestines, stoop like a hunchback underneath, crawl like a child, do your man’s work lying on your side, stretched and tense as a corpse. The rats shall be your birds, and the rocks plopping in the water your music….
Certainly, most peasants who see someone else eat what they have produced or find themselves conscripted to work for another’s benefit find that access to resources required for their own personal well-being has been reduced in proportion to the quantity of goods and services transferred by such transactions. When armed raiders break in upon a village of farmers, resemblance to the macroparasitism of one animal species on another is obvious enough. When it is tax or rent collectors who come to seize their share of the harvest, the resemblance is less obvious, since sudden death is not normally at stake in such situations. Still, if one thinks not of individuals but of biological populations, the dependence of a macroparasite on the survival of the plants or animals whose tissues it eats is similar to the dependence of the tax and rent consumer on the survival of tax and rent payers. Accordingly, customs and institutions that regulate the amount of tax and rent payments so as to allow the survival of the payers are analogous to the balance of nature that keep predators relatively few and their prey comparatively numerous—as, for instance, is true of lions and antelopes in the African game preserves.
Coming to the kitchen, she heard her father’s angry voice: “They’re taking all of it, every damn thing. The whole year slaved to nothing. I owe them—some joke if it wasnt so bloody—I owin them after workin like a team of mules for a year. They’re wanting the cow and Nellie . . . takin Fred Benson’s farm and Eldridge’s. Batten on us like hogs. The bastards. A whole year—now I’m owin them.”
Humanity, in short, is not likely to run out of problems to confront nor of changes needing to be made in prevailing practices…. Action and reaction within a complex ecological web will not cease, and efforts to understand its functioning fully and to foresee future side effects will continue to elude human beings for some time to come, and perhaps forever.
|That scarf of cloud above became a fog that lasted all the way to town.|
…A man commonly saunters a little in turning his hand from one sort of employment to another. When he first begins the new work he is seldom very keen and hearty; his mind, as they say, does not go to it, and for some time he trifles rather than applies to good purpose. The habit of sauntering and indolent careless application, which is naturally or necessarily acquired by every country workman who is obliged to change his work and his tools every half hour, and to apply his hand in twenty different ways almost every day of his life; renders him almost always slothful and lazy, and incapable of any vigorous application even on the most pressing occasions. Independent, therefore, of his deficiency in the point of dexterity, this cause alone must always reduce considerably the quantity of work which he is capable of performing.
|Another day, another set of clouds|