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.