… an early phenomenon of recycling …

Marie was one-of-a-kind, a unicum, einzigartig. Considered a fool, she was waddling through the streets of my childhood village in search of rejected items.

Based on a few photos my dad took during the nineteen-fifties, I put a challenge to my Patrons  inviting a short story (250 to 500 words) to include in a post here. I’m starting with my version, in the form of a monologue.

Sweet are the uses of adversity
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.  (As You Like It)

Marie found good – even in the flawed. She says:

… I have you know, my great, great, great grandmother, add one, was a noblewoman in Russia with more material means than King Ludwig of Bavaria, and an equal flamboyant imagination. Like the Fairy King’s life, hers was cut short through envy.

My life, too, is in service to art of some kind, though nobody envies me.

At least that’s what I thought for a while … some do envy me – the treacherous bunch in this village, the ones chased by hungry spirits hovering over their houses. They resent and envy my freedom. I scare them, because I remind them of the ravages of time. I’m beholden to no one, which is why they spread lies about me. I’ve sharp ears.

You know who, down the road, claims I’ve put a spell on his family, so his wife will only bear girls. The bully doesn’t know his blessing. A son would topple him. And his trickster of a neighbour, you know who, blames me for his impotency. He doesn’t know his blessing either. The mishaps some people complain about may actually save them from much, much worse. Just saying.

And so from hour to hour we ripe and ripe,
And then from hour to hour we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale.’ (As You Like It)

There you have it. Ask me anything and you get truth, since I’ve got nothing to lose. The absurdity of human behaviour makes rejection bearable. I learned to live with it. Consequently, my brain cells can’t help being impressed by discarded objects. It’s compulsive. When you get there one day, remember me, the woman in the street, shouting, ‘We ripe, we rot, it’s all the same. Do as you like.’

Nothing goes to waste with me. My backyard is the showroom of my art, for all to see. I give every item the freedom to be and decay, ache over its beauty, and let it speak for itself.

That rusty teapot hanging from the tree over there has outlived its owner. If you gave the pot a voice it would tell you how it was used to kill a burglar, a scoundrel, bringing misery to his family. Blood still crusts its metal edge. There’s justice for you.

That scruffy carpet leaning against the fence, which had three generations walk, dance, fight, puke and sleep on it, holds a rich legacy of tales. The well-used tools in that box among the dandelions could still fix and dismantle implements. And the mangled doll on top was once loved to bits. With your mind at rest you can hear kids scream and battle over its possession.

Each thing stacked up here has a Sermon to tell.

And now you want to see what’s in my shack? You’re a nosy one, aren’t you? I tell you a secret. It’s hellishly empty.

A link to the Shakespeare quotes.


Filed under Blog

15 responses to “… an early phenomenon of recycling …

  1. Rob Leech

    That strikes a chord beautifully with me Ashen……
    My father, who just died, aged 91, had a mentor in his Suffolk boyhood village. His name was Charlie, an uncompromising individualist and countryman. Even when I was a boy he still drove a horse and cart, wore a bright-colored neckerchief, a battered trilby hat and gaiters. He kept pigs in a sty and chickens in his junk yard adjoining the cemetery. He got drunk sometimes and cursed, shouted and threw missiles at the pigs. He bought items from the houses of the newly dead, or anything that people wanted to be rid of and took them to the auctions in a neighbouring village. He had a vast quantity of antique treasures ripening away in his yard….napoleonic muskets, finely made cabinets and china….you name it.
    One day my father was riding with Charlie in his cart when the doctor’s infamous mastiff, Wolf, attempted to attack the cart horse, Billy. No problem…one zen-like blow from Charlie’s whip left Wolf lying unconscious in the lane. (He made a full recovery by the way….or so my father said).
    My impression is that Charlie made my father’s boyhood bearable and unknowingly helped nurture what precious sanity there was in the family. My father would ride Billy, bareback and Billy wandered where he would but always brought my father home safely.
    One day much later, when my father was driving his electrician’s van down the country lanes, he encountered two bridled, saddled and riderless horses galloping towards him.
    He stopped, got out and walked calmly to meet the them, took their reigns, quieted them and led them back to their embarrassed riders, two “knobby” ladies who didn’t even have the grace to thank him.

    Despite our many profound differences, these are the kinds of anecdotes which link my heart to my father’s. Thankyou Charlie.
    Rob x

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Wonderful words. What a character. Even stones have life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Vivid and evocative…

    Sharing on my social media…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yet another beautiful post from an amazing writer. Just fascinating how simple little things can carry such vivid, tangible history. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks you Jean. History, though spiced with fantasy – guided by an essence that shines through memory and often very powerfully through inner or outer images, which writer-magicians love using as launchpads for stories …

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What an amazing story, Ashen, and the photos are powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m reminded of a couple of things here, one, an artist I happen to know who gathers like a tinker discards and shapes them into something new, example here: http://www.pnwsculptors.org/prmcwilliamsconductorbg.htm But I’m also reminded, woman pulling cart full of carpet remnants, of today’s homeless. I see them all around pulling or pushing carts (often shopping carts ironically now used to collect throwaways once new in shiny carts in the aisles of the stores) full of stuff that in a single view (outdoor camp, photo, image, poem) is not considered art. Art is something more than what we want. It’s often what we don’t want comes back to remind us we once had the desire. In any case, yr writing piece here is excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love this kind of industrial implement Robert McWilliams uses with great wit to give its mechanism a new/old context. Striking – how all human inventions derive from nature.
      And those shopping carts, they seem to have inadvertently replaced the wooden carts (Leiterwagen) of old.
      Thank you for the compliment. Maybe it’s worthwhile to keep writing 🙂 ☼

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great story. I believe each one of us is the protagonist in our own movie and we react to the world as we see it based on our experience. Thanks for sharing. All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Quite so. Thanks Lindi ☼


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