Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Of Hedge Clippers and Koans

I've been mowing the front lawn with a pair of hedge clippers. No, I have not become some total OCD uber-Martha. Far from it. Rather, the weather of the past week and a half or so has been like this: dry and sunny for many days and then rain for many days. During those many days of rain the grass, and I use the term very loosely here, decided to use up all that stored up sun energy and it grew to be very, very high. Too high for my push mower, which on a good day seems to mostly mash and crush more than mow. (Nothing against push mowers - I love them and think everyone should use them - but I think I got a cheapy not meant for "grass" of our...errr...quality) In any case, I thought I would just use the clippers on the lawn to jump start the process.

Four days later and I am almost finished. The end is in sight, although I am beginning to think that this is a painting the 59th Street Bridge kind of situation, i.e. by the time I get to the end, it will be time to start over again. But I digress.

Clipping such a vast amount of high grass is a meditative process and one that has its own set of satisfactions as long as you keep your goals simple. And it has offered moments of clarity. For example, just before heading out for today's allotment, I was contacted by the CBC station in St. John's about doing an interview for the Weekend Arts Magazine on Thursday. As I was clipping, I began to imagine all the witty and insightful things I might say and no doubt will forget completely come Thursday. This train of thought led me to think about how to sum up what exactly this project is all about. Something about defining Newfoundland culture - that much I know, but what exactly am I getting at here? That's when I had my moment of clarity: this project is a giant, three-dimensional koan: "What is this place?"

Like a koan, there is no real way of conveying an answer to this question in words. We can talk about it, around it and try to describe it, but ultimately, it can only be known through experience.

This doesn't help me put my thoughts together in a more coherent way for Thursday but I did clip a heck of a lot of grass!

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