"I am getting the urge. Our car shed has accumulated a lot of junk during the winter, and I want to get rid of it before it becomes a permanent part of the structure, which can happen. Things left too long in car sheds have a way of becoming encrustations, like barnacles. They take on a uniform color and begin to look like part of the building.
"A couple of years ago I was invited to an outdoor barbeque at a farm about twenty miles from home. The man holding the party worked in the city and was renting the farmhouse. The landowner has leased the cropland for farming, but no one was using the barn and other farm buildings. I took a stroll around the place and spent quite a while standing by myself in a small dilapidated car shed a few yards behind the house. It had been used not only for shading a car but also as a workshop, and there were lots of interesting old hand tools hung on nails. They had been unused and unmoved for so long they were becoming part of the walls. Everything was the same color, a warm brownish gray. The wooden handles of the hammers—ball-peen and mallet and claw- were the same color as their steel heads. The blade of the sickle was the same as its handle. Cans of nails and jars of nuts and bolts were all the same dull hue. An old fly net for the draft horse hung on one wall. Once leather brown, it too had turned to gray.
"This wasn’t just the result of field dust that had collected over the years but of that dust combined with the timeless shade and stillness, the cool motionless shadows that resisted the busy workaday light which stood beyond the open door. All those tools, once so different in shape and color and purpose, all those cartons of spark plugs and odd nuts and bolts were, through their neglect, becoming one homogeneous mass of gray: wood, steel, rubber belts, cardboard, and straps of leather. It occurred to me that unless somebody cleans out that building, there will come a time when it can no longer be cleaned. Everything will have become inextricably woven together, like a bird’s nest, like the life experiences of the very old, buried in cartons and loose gray coils of memory, where things take on the color of the singular mind in which they lie unwanted and unmoved.
"So before my coil of clothesline rope begins to weave its way through the spokes of my bicycle, I’d better get out my broom. Besides, it is always a pleasure to stand in the cool shade of a dirty car shed and look out into a busy spring day.”