I was in the backyard yesterday, playing dog turd or mushroom? (needless to say it’s been moist here) when I paused to admire the array of insects crawling around in my trusty pooper scooper. Each shit was its own little (little being figurative, our dog eats 4 cups of food a day) Noah’s ark, full of tiny black beetles, yellow wiggly things with legs, a swarm that flies off as I sidle up and scoop and flip and strain. The only thing I find enjoyable about the chore is all the creepy crawlies I get to eye up.
Remember the mention of moistness? It had been a while since I picked up dog crap. I mean, it’s not like you can’t find an excuse to not pick up dog crap. There was quite a variety out there, much of it a bit puddlish–too puddlish if you ask me. I got a little squeamish. The insects eschewed the round flat blobs I was lifting off the long grass. Now my mind was on Paris, and how this wasn’t a fraction as disgusting as the height of 16th century sophistication. St. Simon complained of the gardens of Versailles reeking of piss and tuberoses.
I’ll leave you with a passage from W. H. Lewis’ The Splendid Century:
Paris mud left an indelible stain on all it touched, and from whatever direction you approached the capital, Paris mud could be smelt two miles out the gates… In Paris, the stroller would find the same narrow thoroughfare, carpeted in filth, with the central gutter, or rather succession of stagnant pools, choked with dung, entrails, litter of all kinds: the droves of foraging pigs and poultry, the dark open-fronted cavernous shops, each with its trad sign suspended on a gallows and almost touching that of the next shop on the other side of the street: the mounds of human excrement and kitchen rubbish outside the doors, awaiting the arrival of the municipal cart to transport it out of the city, where it will be seized upon for manure by the suburban market gardener…
Yes it goes on. It’s times like these I don’t think we appreciate our garbagemen, indoor plumbing, and insects (busy little recyclers) enough.
T. W. Dittmer said:
4 cups a day. Big dog = big turds. I was in NYC during a warm, dry spell. It smelled like the world’s biggest dog run.
We do call him Beast and Manifest Destiny (he’s forever expanding on the couch). My husband told me they hose the subways there down with bleach, and I just shuddered.
There is a stretch of a downtown street in Vancouver, the locals refer to as dog doo lane, even though most scoop after their pets.
There’s only so much to done about dog crap. In Pittsburgh there’s a street lined with ginkgo trees and you can smell it from blocks away.
Theo Fenraven said:
Reminds me of a movie I recently saw. No, not the dog turds but your Paris quote. “Perfume,” which riveted me with its depiction of an unsanitary world before indoor plumbing and quality control. I recommend it to those who can stomach such a thing.
Isn’t that some weird horror film? I remember hearing about it and thinking, “Yes, that’s something I would watch.”
Theo Fenraven said:
It’s a murder mystery set in France, during the last century I believe. I read the book several years ago and liked it. I had no idea what to expect from the movie but I was not disappointed, not at all.
Elin Gregory said:
I love those historical details – but then you have to decide whether to have them in your fiction or not.
My favourite is an account by the French ambassador of a dinner he endured as a guest of Henry VIII – he was astonished by the crunchy texture of the soup until someone moved a candle close enough for him to see wht he was eating and he discovered that a soot laden cobweb, complete with flies and spider, had fallen into his dish.
Thanks for sharing, that’s just adorable.
I like how Louis XIV had to yell at the nobles not to piss behind the doors at Versailles, because they did at the Louvre. There’s also an account of a great quantity of stolen gold braid (from the curtains of Versailles) being thrown at the King’s dinner table after the thieves found themselves unable to sell such hot goods.
Honestly, if you have the time, St. Simon is quite rewarding. You can get him Gutenberg.
Maddie Cochere said:
We had four dogs at one time. Two large breeds and two beagles. No pooper scooper here. It went faster if I simply wore two pairs of surgical gloves and picked it up. It was easier to get all the “moist” stuff that way. Love the image of Paris – truly.
Ah…the double glove, good for nasty chemicals and dog crap. Beagles are troublemakers, at least the one I grew up with was.
Maddie Cochere said:
We rescued a beagle who had been badly abused. We had him for three years, but he never came out of his trauma. When he started to attack me, we had to put him down. It broke my heart, but the day he sunk his teeth deep into my thigh was pretty much a wake-up call. You have a big dog – what kind?
I’m sorry to hear that Maddie. Owning a dog is a lot of responsibility, including tough choices like the one you had to made. You did the right thing, I just want to say that.
We have an American bulldog, 90 lbs. of muscle hound (he’d be handsome in a muscle car). He’s a rescue as well. Besides being neurotic, we don’t really have much problems with him, although he can be a jerk with other dogs.