Public Noises

Well Sylvia has one week to go before her eggs hatch and I have a choral performance tonight. Our conductor is a big fleshy man who will one day have a heart attack at the podium out of frustration with the orchestra, or in raptures over the music. At one point in our Bottesini Requiem he looks like he will simply rise up to heaven and disappear. He loves his work.

But before participating in this sublime musical experience, I have to do the grocery shopping. What a curse of modern living this is. I much prefer the image of myself arrayed in a long skirt and head scarf, bent double in the vege patch pulling up carrots or digging up potatoes, singing as I swing a basket full of eggs and veg and bringing it in to place on the kitchen table next to my rising dough. Instead, I push a steel trolley up and down aisles under harsh strip lighting, listening to Muzak instead of birdsong.

I have recently begun shopping at Aldi, mainly because it’s quiet. No Muzak, just the occasional mother-toddler negotiation, or elderly couples discussing whether they already have toilet paper, and do you think the grandkids will like these biscuits. But last time I found it so quiet that I began whistling the Bottesini Requiem–alto part–and then tap-dancing (I can’t) before realising I had unwittingly drawn attention to myself and so resumed the look of quiet desperation that most people wear in supermarkets. A toddler sitting up in his trolley seat was growling and bearing his teeth at no one in particular. I beared my teeth at him in response, which he appreciated, but I stopped short of actually growling. He can growl like a lion and that’s fine, but if I do it, I’m suspected of being insane. At what point in our development does this happen? I often feel like growling and bearing my teeth in public. *sigh* Modern life is so constraining.

If I were, as I plan to in the future, pulling up carrots in my vege patch, I would be free to growl as much as I wanted. And I could do it naked, although I probably wouldn’t. I was growing a lettuce and would by now be picking it’s fresh leaves and growling as I placed them in my basket, but Esme, my oldest chicken at 7 and 1/4 years, keeps eating it. As soon as it went in the ground she was pacing up and down the fence eyeing it off. I told her not to eat it, but as soon as I turned my back she was over the fence and in there. I put wire and netting over the garden, but she just went through the gaps. I spotted her as she flew up onto the fence ready to drop down the other side and growled at her. She quickly jumped back down again looking sulky, but next time I looked, the lettuce was eaten to the ground. Over the next couple of days new leaves began to grow, but before they could rise more than a couple of centremetres they were gone again.

And that’s enough to make you scream.

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