Thursday, September 30, 2010
For a long time we lived with a carpet that featured a stain from when our last fluffy black dog died - Tupelo. We're not sure what happened. There was vomiting, drooling, whining, stillness. We buried him in the front garden, the four of us digging spring-cool dirt and replacing the blanket whenever it blew off Tupelo's body. We tossed into the grave Baba's ashes and the two containers of frozen placenta we still had in the freezer. We are not people who take care of things in an expedient manner. We linger. We procrastinate. We let the ashes of a long-dead dog keep a place on the mantel. We rearrange frozen placenta every time we unpack the weekly groceries. We live with obvious stains on our carpet long past an emotionally appropriate moment. Finally, I ripped up the carpet in a fit of pique, knowing a bare, ugly floor might motivate us to put something in its place. I was pregnant with our third child and really leaning towards a nap, but there were these two boys at my knees who needed me conscious. So, for fun and distraction, we ripped up the carpet. And then, over several weekends, replaced it with pine boards. The upstairs floor is also pine, milled here on our land when when we cleared a few acres for the horses. I like the idea of the trees which used to grow here now serving an alternative purpose just a few dozen feet from where they were previously rooted. Just as dead dogs and placenta rot in the soil out front, giving the cosmos an extra dose of nutrients and karma. If it were allowed, I'd be buried there too, my bones mingling with Tupelo's, my skin rubbing up against dirt enriched by the placenta that fed my babies when everything was on the inside. Long after I am earth, our old stained carpet will still be whole, rolled up in a landfill somewhere. Maybe the stain will still be visible to the worms who try their hardest to eat through it, with limited success.
Funny thing about my friends in New England, none of us have carpeting. Sure there are rugs, but mostly it’s bare wood floor; oftentimes hewn from trees that were found right outside the door. You’d think that someplace where the winters are this cold we’d delight in the deep, thick pile of comfort underneath our feet. Not so. Our practicality gets in the way, as does our love for the beauty of the wood. In fact when we visit a house, we bring our own houseshoes. We expect to leave our outside shoes by the door and that the floors may be a bit cold. But if the house we've stepped into is not one we're visiting but rather thinking of buying, our minds start racing. How quick could we rip up this shag remnant and discover what exactly is hiding underneath? Then we imagine ourselves getting out the sanders and polishing the floor to a high shine. We can retire the vacuums, shake and hang the rugs as needed, and then sweep, sweep, sweep: dust, dirt and dog hair. Though we may not approve of carpet inside, outside is another matter. All of my friends still have this innate sense of joy when it comes to falling leaves. This is one carpet that causes us to kick up our heels, take a running start and leap right in. We hear the crunch and crinkle of the vibrant colors, knowing that soon enough we will need to rake, shred and mulch. But thank goodness, it never ever requires the vacuum.