John Kenneth Galbraith died on Saturday April 29th. He was 97 years old. I had no idea who Galbraith was until I moved to my current residence approximately 17 months ago. That he was a person of some importance was made eminently clear to me as the closest library was christened in his honor (one of my favourite places to frequent by the by). Galbraith even had his own monument up the Buttermilk Bog way. Granted it is on a lonely dirt road backed by acres and acres of farm land but it is well kept and there’s a bench if you’d like to sit and relax in the shadow of that dedicated statuary.
It is a little confusing to me, that monument, as there is an aspect that I find hard to reconcile to a six foot eight inch tall Scot’s descent farm boy done good. The monument that marks the location of the childhood home of one of the greatest economists of the past century is an Inukshuk. Although he was a great collector of (East) Indian art, to my knowledge Galbraith was in no way associated with the native peoples of Canada… but as my maritime relatives like to say “go figure”.
There were some hard feelings out this way in the sixties when Galbraith published his scandalous 1964 memoir “The Scotch”. Some of it still lingers on but for the most part they’ve let bygones be bygones. You can bet that his virtues, grown exponentially with his passing, will rate more than a mention in the local paper that comes out every Friday. Apparently Galbraith still held the small place that engendered him in some regard and here, under the never changing sky that still blankets the old back ways, amongst all the others that remain (over the earth and under it as well) they held him dear as well. Although he had occasionally visited it has been decades since he walked the dirt roads and looked over the fields that refuse to let him go. I wonder if he knew that in the end, no matter how far he traveled, this place would always claim him as its son.
I didn’t know much about the man but I can tell you that "The Scotch" he wrote about are still out and about (if you’re Canadian you know that’s supposed to rhyme) and going on with their business in the old township. They and others keep his memory alive and even I, as a new immigrant to the soils that birthed his world genius, have (obliquely, tongue in cheek and admittedly on a coat tail) deigned to poke a toe in his shadow. I wish him a good journey wherever he’s headed off to while myself and all the rest of us regular folk wait it out here in a place that still remembers his voice and the sight of him heading down the old dirt road to supper and home.
So with respect to the barefoot boy, a re-post with an allusion to your memory… to many people you walk here still. Travel well.
Here Amongst The Scotch
(Originally posted July 21st 2005)
The day dawns clear with a bright sun in a cloudless sky. There is a light breeze skipping amongst the garden blooms and the humidity of the past week is history. To some it might seem the perfect day for a picnic but, for myself, it seems the perfect day to hang the wash out on the line.
As I live here, amongst "the Scotch" (to quote John Kenneth Galbraith), there is no guarantee that the skies will stay clear so one must make hay while the sun shines. A common saying in this part of the country states that if you don’t like the weather…wait 5 minutes. During the past several rainy days the laundry pile has been multiplying in girth exponentially on the basement floor so I decide to take the chance.
A perfect laundry day as I have said; the sun is warm and the breeze is steady but not strong. There’s nothing worse than a wind that sends you 2 concessions over looking for your potholders. Today even the towels are dry in an hour. All is well and fine, until I get to the white load. Herein lies my weakness, my hypocrisy. Today the white load is my Waterloo.
I’ve never had the least bit of trouble hanging out my "tidy whities" (at least not the romantic ones) but the husband is consumed by the thought that the neighbours must have an all-encompassing interest in his delicates. He insists that his unmentionables must be hung in the basement away from the mysterious league of underwear inspectors that wander the rural backyards seeking out the jockey shorts of the local men. It is a subject that I’ve never failed to exploit for some small bit of humour at his expense placing an emphasis on the fact that no one is interested in our laundry. Imagine my chagrin when my laundry hang up came to light.
I take some pride in my whites and I am constantly carping at the prodigal son to stop walking around outside in his white socks with no shoes on. Of course a brick wall responds with more interest than the prodigal son. Frustrated, I finally tell him that I am ashamed to hang his socks out on the line lest the neighbours see my whites aren’t the whitest and judge my merit as a woman /domestic goddess/ member of the human race … Oops, I should never had said that in front of the husband.
One underwear joke too many apparently makes one a little touchy on the subject of neighbourly laundry inspections. I’m not quite sure when I will hear the end of it and I "guess" I deserve it (but it was fun while it lasted).
Here amongst "the Scotch" my laundry hangs on the line sans jockey shorts and the prodigal son’s not so white socks even though I know the neighbours aren’t interested in either. Personally, I think the less said about the secret league of laundry inspectors the better. Your personal hang-ups are just that…personal and people should respect them.
I think I’ll buy some 20 Mule Borax tomorrow…just in case.