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April 15, 2009

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Jeff

A good broom is a lovely thing. And sweeping is a satisfying occupation. Poet Jane Kenyon says, in her poem "Happiness":

"It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink ...
etc. &c."

Happiness. Wonderful poem. Sweeping the dining room and kitchen was my job last year on a 10-day meditation retreat, and I loved it. Thus, I should probably choose something else this year, but I hope to arrive early and find that job free again.

In the low country of South Carolina, there was, or is, a Gullah tradition of sweeping the yard. And the yards were sand, not grass. There was supposedly an African tradition of sweeping yards to keep snakes away, and so I wonder if it didn't evolve from that to the elegant practice of sweeping the sandy soil for the beauty of it, since there were no places for snakes to hide.

I'm going to look for a good broom with a fine label ...

John Ptak

Lovely poem, Jeff, thanks so much. And I agree on the elegance of sweeping with a good broom. Also the very sound of it. Very relaxing, and allows the mind to think and wander, seeing as how part of it so available to distraction is now otherwise employed. Brooms are a wonder beyond the uses of witches and Quidditch.

Maybe the African sweeping of the sand had something to do with removing snakes tracks from the sand? Snake tracks there are pretty unusual looking, as the snakes has to sort of scoot along sideways. I've got a distant memory of Four-Corners area Indian practices of not walking over such tracks. Can't remember the rest of it or the reason. Snakes in the sand.

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