So I was having a terrific morning in the yard, doing three and four garden chores at once, in rotation and overlap (in preparation for mowing, carrying chairs off the grass on each trip by with the buckets from the rain barrels while watering the big pots, and weeding the beds while the buckets filled - that sort of thing - like the ballet of choreographed cooking tasks while making a familiar and complex meal) when I got to the job of pounding in the tall stakes for the hibiscus coccineus. Every year they come up seven feet tall, behind the foundation plantings, by my true love's favorite window, where she does all her blogging, and I have to part them and tie them so they don't obscure her view of the two beds we call France and England.
I have to drive seven foot tall poles, and I have to do it with the back of my ax while two or three steps up my step ladder (you're already guessing where this is going).
I had to lean further this year, and I figured the pole itself would help keep me upright. Daughter was at the computer, five or six feet away through the closed window (AC on - high eighties yesterday). She and my wife worry about people on ladders. Well I got in a few strong strokes with the ax, all going well, when suddenly the pole bent to the right and I lost my balance.
Below me were two very jolly Chinese hollies, the reason I had to reach further, which I had just trimmed up like Sancho Panza. I had been leaning over the not quite gap between them. As I fell, which could not have taken more than two seconds, and was only about five feet in an arc that I'm sure can be described by a lovely geometric formula (probably used in the science of ballistics), I had an astonishing amount of time to consider things. First, I actually launched myself somewhat from the ladder step, to get mostly over the bushes. I did not want to crush the big fat things. Then I noted that the pole was positioned so I would not "fall upon my sword" on the way down. Then I tossed the ax to the side, because that was actually the greatest risk, as I saw it. Then I was going to... hit the house, glasses first, immediately below the window where my daughter sat, and slide down the siding into a spreadeagled heap.
While I sat there for a moment, in that peculiar silence that follows an accident, another series of thoughts passed rapidly through my head. I was still in hyper time. First, I heard the rapid steps of my daughter racing for the front door. I smiled inside - it was nice to get such a strong reaction from the women folk. Then I thought how much this resembled my recent tumble down the stairs in the dark when I put my foot down directly on the middle of our very soft female cat (I actually could tell with the sole of my foot that it was her and not her brother, in the instant that it took me to not complete the step, and instead lunge forward to miss her, which sent me crashing down the half flight). Then I worried about my glasses (I thought how I've been meaning to get a spare pair) and picked them up from somewhere in the tangle of my own limbs, and inspected them. Not broken, (waves of gratitude from within) and only slightly bent. I was calmly putting them back in shape when my daughter arrived on the front stairs and looked behind the bushes at me. "Are you all right?!?!"
Other than a wry grin and an angry red area on the left eyebrow where my glasses frames nearly cut me, I'm fine. I got up and finished the job after putting some ice on my eyebrow and drinking some ice water that my daughter brought me. My sweetheart got to hear about it after she got back from aerobics. I saw her and daughter looking at me through that same window as I was mowing - I smiled and waved at the look my wife was giving me - the one with head tipped and one eyebrow up. They hate ladders.
>>>> Appendix de Grenouille #1 <<<< Introducing the occupations of Grenouille, who lives on my art table. He's a ceramic frog from La Colombel, a gift shop in Tourrettes-sur-Loup, a village of the Cote d'Azur in Provence. He came home with us over twenty years ago.