Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Pearls Before Swine

I’m giving up abruptly tonight. It’s disappointing to sit down with my oils, my first chance in weeks, and discover that I don’t have the patience for them. I have so many half-finished canvases. I guess I lose heart in the middle of things. A scenic line of tank cars beside the crumbling roundhouse, a dashing purple thistle, some well-lit peaches in a crate, all started. As yet, unfinished.

I have a nagging suspicion that Garth Brooks is about to make a splashy comeback. Watch for it.

During the windy dawn today, I was driving a John Deere tractor around in circles. It was up to its gills in muddy sludge, which is the concentrated sediment collected in the four anthracite filters. Every so often we run water backwards through them and pipe the captured dirt out to a lagoon behind the plant. We pump the water off the top of the settled solids, and pump the sludge into drying beds, shaped-earth bunkers stair-stepped down the hill. The big solids pump has a hard time with the thicker bottom mud, so we drive the leaf-green tractor around in it with the bucket down, mixing it up by plowing and sloshing and basically just playing in it. Watching Jeff at his turn, I thought how closely the laboring little tractor resembled Daisy the Labrador frantically doggy-paddling around in Bear Lake this summer. One-hundred pound Daisy would love the slightly septic, chocolaty sludge, attracted as she is to the nastiest matter available in any environment. You wouldn’t be able to get her out of it. Adjusting the heavy rubber hose to the pump, Bud himself nearly took an involuntary swim in the sludge. I thought of the Bog of Eternal Stench in Labyrinth when he said, “my God, you’d never get the smell of it off you.”

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